‘The Last of Us’ rocks E3, world’s largest video game expo

If there's one video game that has garnered the most amount of buzz at the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo, it's The Last of Us.

And for good reason — no other game at the show delivered the same level of intense action, gorgeous set pieces, smart artificial intelligence (A.I.) and character interaction.

Currently in development at Naughty Dog studios — best-known for its Uncharted, Jak & Daxter and Crash Bandicoot series — The Last of Us takes place in the near future, after most of the earth's population has been decimated by a deadly viral outbreak. Mother Earth has reclaimed much of the planet, growing over many of the streets and buildings.

You play as a hardened middle-aged man, Joel, who vows to protect a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, from a number of threats — including bandits with no regard for human life. While details are scarce about where they're going and why, the duo are making their way across the United States.

The behind-closed-doors demo of this PlayStation 3 exclusive followed Joel and Ellie throughout the remains of a once-posh hotel as the couple tries to find a way outside. Along with third-person combat, the game also houses many puzzles that need to be solved in order to accomplish goals.

Truly, the A.I. is remarkable as the enemies seem to know what you're holding as a weapon (and react accordingly), plus they're aware of each other and their surroundings (they may look down and step over fallen comrades or even shout out their name).

Expect The Last Of Us to win multiple "Best of E3" nods — and deservingly so.

While unconfirmed, The Last Of Us should make it out by the holiday season. Well, here's to hoping.

If you want to check out the latest trailer, click to start below — but be aware of intense violence and other mature themes:

(Image courtesy Naughty Dog)

For all the latest gaming news this week, check out our E3 2012 page.