MATE 1.2 doesn't really bring anything significant to the table beyond what was offered in GNOME2 in terms of desktop features and functionality, but its said to carry numerous bug-fixes, fixes up GNOME conflicts, moves configuration files around, mate-open now launches applications faster, the MATE settings daemon now supports PulseAudio and GStreamer backends, and there is some new artwork.
The new packages to the MATE world include Mozo as a fork of Alacarte, Python-Caja, Caja-gksu, and Caja-image-converter.
Find out more from this mate-desktop.org blog posting. There's also a MATE road-map detailing some of their future plans.
Another option for preferring a GNOME2-like experience if not enticed by the latest GNOME3 and Unity desktop happenings is to try Cinnamon, which is carrying a lot more momentum at the moment and builds upon GNOME3.