With 2011 finally consigned to memory, it's time to look ahead to what the next 12 months might hold in store. On paper, 2012 is a tantalising prospect - fat with the promise of new hardware and, mercifully, relatively thin on zombie FPS sequels.
We've got revered franchises returning after long absences (Diablo 3, Max Payne 3, Hitman: Absolution, Luigi's Mansion 2), blockbuster sequels to current-gen perennials (Uncharted: Golden Abyss, BioShock Infinite, Mass Effect 3) and, whisper it, even the odd new IP to get in a lather about (Dishonored, Fortnite).
On top of that, will the Wii U finally throw up a substantial new Nintendo IP? Will The Last Guardian emerge from its excruciatingly protracted incubation? Is this the year we get to see what Bungie, Respawn and Blizzard have been beavering away on in their top-secret high-security bunkers? Will whatever game you're most eagerly anticipating match your expectations or leave you sobbing bitter tears into your control pad?
With all those unknowables buzzing around our heads we rang round various game developers to find out which titles, other than their own, they're most looking forward to playing in 2012. Here's what they said.
BioShock Infinite (Irrational Games/2K)
Greg Kasavin, creative director of Bastion at Supergiant Games:
"My most anticipated game of 2012 shouldn't come as any surprise: it's BioShock Infinite, the successor to one of the best, most memorable games I've played in years.
"BioShock is an important game to me and is indirectly responsible for why I finally gathered up the guts to get into game development about five years ago. I was just blown away by everything about it when I first saw it at E3 2006, and the finished game lived up to all my expectations. I have similarly high hopes for Infinite and can't wait to explore all the intricacies of that world."
Matthew Prior, associate producer of FIFA Football at EA Sports:
"BioShock Infinite looks great. I loved the previous games and the atmosphere they created, particularly the first one. Clearly the next one is going to have a very different feel due to the airborne setting so it will be interesting to see what they do with the new story and environment."
Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda)
Ivan Buchta, creative director at ArmA 3 developer Bohemia Interactive:
"Let me pick Dishonored. The screenshots suggest the graphics would be very imaginative, which is something the explorer in me always appreciates. What I've seen so far promises some pleasant surprises."
Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/EA)
Lee Perry, lead designer of Gears of War 3 and Fortnite at Epic Games:
"The game I'm most looking forward to in 2012? For so many of the same reasons I loved Skyrim... Mass Effect 3. I wish I had some artsy-fartsy off-the-radar pick that would enlighten gamers everywhere, but the truth is that Mass Effect is what I thought games 'would be like in the future' when I was growing up. The team is amazing, and they pull off some of the best characters in the industry."
Diablo 3 (Blizzard)
"I'm a Diablo whore."Ken Levine, Irrational Games
Ken Levine, BioShock creator and co-founder of Irrational Games:
"I'm a Diablo whore. I'm going sink my teeth into that sucker. It's just that loot cycle. I am the monkey pressing on the buttons to get the grape. I am proud to be that monkey and I will be that monkey forever. I've been in that particular skinnerbox for many many years and I'm happy to remain there.
"I just enjoy it. They just keep improving their formula. Blizzard always delivers something beautiful and something polished. I'm just really looking forward to that. There are a million things I'm looking forward to playing, but that's probably right now my number one."
Richard Garriott, industry veteran and creator of Ultima:
"Blizzard rarely falters plus Diablo is also a franchise I always love and learn from!"
Brad Muir, design lead on Iron Brigade at Double Fine:
"I just played the beta and it's just like... wow. It's like pure cocaine in a hyperdermic needle injected into my brain. I absolutely love that game and playing it feels like they're doing everything right. It's so mechanics-focused, it's so loot-focused. It's about clicking s*** and getting loot, and levelling up and, man, it's just such an awesome experience.
"And if I wanted to be snooty I'd probably say BioShock Infinite too. That's going to be awesome - I've gone media-dark on that one so I can just experience it fresh. I'm really looking forward to that."
Darksiders 2 (Vigil Games, THQ)
David Jaffe, Twisted Metal co-creator and Eat Sleep Play boss:
"The first Darksiders was one of my favourite games the year that released. I just love that game. Darksiders 2 is the only game I've ever done the geek media blackout for. I won't look at screenshots and I won't click on links."
Kinect Star Wars (Terminal Reality, LucasArts)
Craig Duncan, senior studio director at Rare:
"Lots of awesome features like manipulating the force with your hands and being a Jedi, driving a pod and controlling a Rancor with your body, just being able to play in the immersive universe of Star Wars and its amazing characters like never before is a hugely compelling draw for me as a gamer and fan of the Star Wars universe."
Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar Games)
Peter Molyneux, creative director of Microsoft Game Studios Europe:
"I guess it would be GTA5, although the curious thing about what's coming up next year is that I'm not sure if I'm not more excited about the promise of some non-triple-A games. With so many new ways to play on so many devices it's going to be a really interesting year."
Stewart Gilray, boss of Leeds-based Just Add Water, developer of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD:
"This was quite a hard choice, but the mass market geek inside me has won: GTA5 all the way. For a chance to revisit San Andreas and Los Santos again, but this time in a much more in-depth fashion than the PS2 outing. The teaser trailer more than got my excitement levels up through the roof, so unless Rockstar North muck it up I don't think there will be much that has a chance of beating this. Yes it's a sequel, but it's a sequel with a true pedigree, unlike the CODs etc of the world."
The Last Guardian (Team Ico/Sony)
Dino Patti, founder of Limbo studio Playdead:
"There has been a bad trend, where most game teasers and trailers are misleading pre-rendered movies. Also too much is often shown so when I've decided to play a game I stop reading the excessive news which is often released and just buy and play the game when it launches. With that said, I'll buy and play The Last Guardian, which I hope releases in 2012."
Geremy Mustard, technical director at Infinity Blade and Shadow Complex developer Chair Entertainment:
"I am most excited for The Last Guardian, which will hopefully come out [in 2012]. It looks amazing, and has already captured my imagination. I actually had an emotional attachment to my horse by the end of Shadow of the Colossus, and I can tell that Team Ico will probably accomplish that rare feat again with The Last Guardian. I can't wait!"
Something that isn't a sequel
"I'm tired of sequels, so give me something new."Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games
Dylan Cuthbert, founder of PixelJunk studio Q-Games:
"I'm tired of sequels, so give me something new. I'm not sure when Naughty Dog's new IP comes out but that certainly excites me, and Command & Conquer: Generals 2 deserves a mention even though that is my anticipated title for 2013 and not 2012 so it gets away with being a sequel. Wouldn't it be nice to see a year which has no sequels! It would cause people to actually have to think about what game they want to buy instead of buying the same thing again because that's what they know."
Feature compiled by Wesley Yin-Poole, Robert Purchese and Fred Dutton. With huge thanks to everyone who contributed!