A month in and I STILL haven't gotten to try every possible combination of karts, parts and riders. Even so, it doesn't take long for you to find a combination that suits your play style. ATV's join karts and bikes as a vehicle type, with a wealth of different wheels and gliders available to help you traverse many different environments. The size/weight of the driver you choose plays into these factors as well. Once you've chosen your ideal set-up, it's time to jump into the courses.
The controls handle very smoothly, although the emphasis on drifting has never been stronger. Veterans will be able to jump right in, but newer players might be overwhelmed by the amount of precession it takes to finish in a top spot on some of these tracks. Being the best driver doesn't always mean you'll be placing first, as every race can easily be upturned by the use of a well-timed item. The availble items are mostly the same, but a few classics such as the Decoy Item Box have been scrapped in favor of newer weapons like The Piranha Plant, an item that gives you a few bursts of speed while also attacking fellow racers. Perhaps the biggest addition to the item line up is the Super Horn, an item that emits a shock wave that cancels the effects of any incoming projectile, including the infamous Blue Shell. Mario Kart 8 requires a careful combination of item usage and driving skill, but once you find that balance, you'll quickly become a force to be reckoned with.
Mario Kart 8 is the killer app the Wii U has needed, and I'm glad it came along when it did. My Wii U was basically becoming a Netflix machine, but now I can barely put the gamepad down. Despite a few hiccups, Mario Kart 8 is "excellence of execution", and it's a title I know I'll be playing for some time to come. 4.5/5.