The game is, for the most part, pretty awesome. It has a few negative points, such as:
1. The shitty, phoned in "Battle Mode". Why they didn't just have one of their many outside development partners work on a GOOD, REAL Battle Mode, instead of that phoned in garbage, is beyond me. I'm very disappointed by it.
2. Not a BIG issue, but the baby and metal characters are, of course, a waste of time, and wasting spots that could/should have gone to the likes of Birdo, Diddy, Dry Bones, Funky, Dixie, Magickoopa, King Boo, maybe Prof. E. Gadd, etc. I'm happy I have my Shy Guy, don't get me wrong. But some of those others should have been in the game, and NOBODY needs to play baby or metal versions of characters already in the game.
Other than that? The RACING part is incredibly solid, and in fact I'll go one better and say that it's pretty amazing, considering the fact that this game actually seems to reward players for being good RACERS, for the first time in the franchise since the N64 or so. Yes, random item madness (see: bullshit, aka: getting "Karted"), still can and does happen. But it does indeed seem to be at least SOMEWHAT more balanced/tamed. If you're good at Mario Kart, you can actually have a chance to excel, because there's LESS item fuckery, and NO ridiculous advantage to the bikes. Now all the vehicles are more or less on even ground, which is the way it should be.
So of THAT, I'm a big fan.
Plus, it needs to be said, this is also the first game since MKDS to have some truly inspired/imaginative track designs again.
1. This whole game seems like it was rushed. No options for horizontal split. You don't see the map on the tv. No options to change the control layout. I'm not surprised that they didn't create a real battle mode. Fortunetely all of this can be implemented with DLC which Nintendo is usually pretty good about it.
2. Your absolutely right, but I really dig lenny:)
I just have to say that I've been playing this with my wife and the fact that we can play grand prix and still unlock everything and get 3 stars on each cup is pretty awesome. I don't have to unlock everything in single player first:)
But ya, the level design in this game is pretty phenomenal.