Why 'The Last of Us' Is The only video game you need to buy in 2013

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It's not often that Esquire delves into the world of video games, but for PlayStation 3's latest big release The Last of Us we've made an exception. Charlie Brooker spent the weekend completely immersed in this survival-adventure and non other than John Carpenter, director of creepy classics Halloween and The Thing, has also been at the controls following its release on June 14.

The Last of Us is grand in scale and scope, tracking a man named Joel across an American heartland that's been ripped apart by a mutated strain of the cordyceps fungi. Victims are turned into raging killers, and running alongside Joel in the fight for survival is a young girl, Ellie, who's mysteriously immune to infection.

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He, or more specifically you, need to deliver the girl to insurgent group the Fireflies in an bid to develop a cure and save humanity.

So far this is all probably sounding a lot like 28 Days Later on steroids (and a host of all your other favourite zombie movies), but Naughty Dog's game grips you like a vice right from the off with its canny blend of blistering action and intuitive problem-solving.

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Players can collect alcohol, blades and rags to fashion into usable items like medical kits and flaming Molotov cocktails.

Traversing the game world's quarantine zone is a perilous task, taking you everywhere from grim sewers to pitch black concrete blocks and city roads overrun with plant life. The story packs an emotional punch, too - the extended prologue is set two decades in the past and shows Joel losing his young daughter during an early outbreak of the infection.

It's probably the most traumatic opening to a video game we've ever seen, and the parallels drawn to Joel's relationship with Ellie in the present are clear.

What makes The Last of Us so compelling, though, are the moments when Joel and Ellie come face-to-face with the infected. Ammunition is usually at a premium, so going in all guns blazing doesn't isn't always the best idea.

It rewards those who can stealthily navigate through hordes of the undead, and sometimes that's required when confronted with the terrifying monsters known as Clickers.

These evolved beasts have no vision but react to sound. Make a noise and they'll come running, one bite and it's all over. Cue plenty of cowering behind doors, desks and boxes in a desperate attempt to avoid another savage attack. It's unbearably tense and scary, and if you're going to open fire on them it best be a good shot.

Those casual games who keep a PS3 solely for new instalments of FIFA and Grand Theft Auto may well get a kick out of this ambitious survival horror. With its cinematic storytelling and edge-of-your-seat gameplay it's a console must-have.