My personal 2012 Game of the Year list, which looks significantly different than I would've expected, with a game I had zero expectations of topping the list, a game I had extremely high expectations for, not even making honorable mention, and a 3:2 ratio of downloadable games to retail games in the top 10.
Notables That Didn't Make the List
Need for Speed: Most Wanted: I really went into this one with high expectations. It's a new game from my favourite developer. It was being heralded as a spiritual successor to Burnout: Paradise, a game I spent well over 100 hours playing. I should've loved it... But I don't.
The upgrade mechanic, combined with the five races per car mechanic, kills the enjoyment of the single player. Cars are still fun to drive in that traditional Criterion way, but only once they've been fully upgraded, and the only way to do that is to finish all five of the races available for that car, meaning that by the time the cars are fun to drive, there are no more races available for that car.
There are parts of Need for Speed: Most Wanted that are great, but the core progression, and much of the core driving really isn't (seriously, who thought that making boost unlockable in a Criterion game was a GOOD IDEA???), and I haven't really been back to the game in weeks.
Halo 4: Despite my general issues towards the Halo series (or, more accurately, the Halo community), I ended up playing a lot of Halo: Reach, or, well, a lot by my standards. I was still playing it a couple of weeks before the launch of Halo 4.
I've never really played the campaigns in Halo games. I played about half of Halo 2, and one level of Halo: Anniversary (did finish Halo: Reach though), so for me, Halo 4 was all about the multiplayer, and the multiplayer does a number of things I really like, such as the ability to shoot while carrying the flag in CTF, and while it flies in the face of everything I'm about to say, being able to customize your starting weapon is really nice, since I can't stand the long range weapons that everyone else seems to love.
That all said, the Call of Duty influence has really turned me off. One of the reasons I really liked Halo: Reach, and continued to play it on, and off, was because it was different than every other shooter on the market. Sure, I was earning XP, and leveling up, but unless I wanted some fancy helmet, or armour, I didn't need to care about any of that.
Now, having to unlock weapons, and abilities has made Halo play very similarly to every other shooter on the market, and similarly, as someone who doesn't put a ton of time into any shooter that doesn't have Battlefield in the title, it becomes extremely frustrating to be so limited in weapon options, while being destroyed by someone who has better options available because they've put more time into the game, is just not fun anymore, and motivates me not to level up, and get better weapons, but to stop playing, and move onto a different game.
The lack of a Grifball playlist, which was my go to playlist when jumping into multiplayer solo (which is more often than not what I end up doing in multiplayer these days), and an often general lack of friends to play with (not the game's fault), hasn't helped the situation either.
It's definitely a good game, and with a good group, it's still a ton of fun, but it feels too much like the same good game that I've grown tired of playing for the past five years.
Hotline Miami: Gave it a try, after picking it up recently in the Steam Holiday sale, and I can definitely see why people really like it. The soundtrack is pretty fantastic, and despite the constant deaths, it very much has a "oh, I was so close, I can get it this time" type of vibe to it. I played through the first couple of chapters, and I would say that I enjoyed what I played, but I didn't love it enough for it to make my list.
Would Still Like to Try
Tokyo Jungle: I have no idea if this will be my type of game, but it looks pretty good, and super ridiculous.
2012 Releases That I Played: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/mcmax3000/2012-games-i-played/46-80590/
My 2011 GOTY List: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/mcmax3000/goty-2011/46-80656/
My 2010 GOTY List: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/mcmax3000/goty-2010/46-80657/