Modeled after the real-world MotoGP Championship, MotoGP for the Wii features dozens of real-life racers, bikes, and tracks in a number of exotic locales. Unfortunately, in trying to please both fans of arcade-style racers and of realistic simulations, the game ends up straddling a line between the two and failing at both. As a simulation racer, it lacks the deep customization, realism, and sharp controls that the genre is known for, and as an arcade racer it's just plain boring.
Figuring out the best way to play MotoGP may be the biggest challenge. You're asked to complete a tutorial the first time you play to determine the style that works for you, but it's not much help. Your best bet is to spend time finding a workable handling style and control setup through trial and error. There are three options for handling: Arcade, Advanced, and Simulation. Arcade is accessible for beginners, but because you don't have to worry about front and back brakes, leaning, or wiping out from turning too hard, it's almost completely devoid of any challenge.
Advanced mode offers a decent middle ground and incorporates some of the more demanding elements of motorcycle racing, such as drafting. It still feels like you're riding with training wheels, though, and the racing just isn't very entertaining. And finally, there is Simulation mode, which ditches all computer assistance and leaves the racing up to you. Purists will naturally gravitate to this mode, but even they will have a hard time sticking with it, given that the poor controls don't offer enough precision to excel.
There are four control schemes that you can mix and match with the three handling options, but none of the combinations feel right. There's the obligatory (and worthless) Wii Remote-only scheme that has you tilting the remote in an attempt to keep your biker upright, and then there are three Remote-and-Nunchuk combos. The option that lets you hold the Remote sideways like a throttle and twist it to accelerate sounds like fun, but it's too inconsistent. Getting through tricky turns is a pain when the game can't tell if you're twisting to go faster or to slow down. The more conventional configurations that employ the analog stick and buttons are better, but none are intuitive and, unlike other console versions of MotoGP, there's no option to customize the controls and assign buttons yourself.
After you decide on the control setup that's least uncomfortable for you, there are five modes to test your racing skills and patience: Career, Challenge, Quick Race, Time Attack, and split-screen multiplayer. The Career mode has you burning through the grand-prix events while increasing your stats and building a better racer. It's the main focus of the game and it offers hours of racing on dozens of tracks. However, there's not much fun to be had tuning your bike between events, because the four options available (tires, suspension, gear ratios, and turning speed) have only a negligible effect that varies according to which racing style you've opted for.
Though it would benefit from more variety, Challenge mode is the most entertaining. The challenges include speed runs, checkpoint races, and variables such as making it through a lap without braking. Completing challenges unlocks more, and as you progress, you gain a better understanding of the ins and outs of motorcycle racing. The upper levels are just more difficult rehashes of the lower levels, so as in other modes, boredom will eventually catch up to you. The other three modes are variants of the Career and Challenge modes and they're just as monotonous. There's some simple split-screen multiplayer available, but it's no better than playing solo, and your friends won't thank you for subjecting them to it.
Visually, MotoGP is bland and grainy. The racers and bikes animate well, but the tracks lack detail. If it weren't for a couple of distinguishing features such as buildings and bleachers, it would be hard to tell the tracks apart. Most of them have the same blurry textures and drab color scheme. The menus are easy to navigate and are accompanied by some nice techno music, but the tunes disappear as soon as you hit the track. The only sound that you'll hear as you race is the monotonous grind of motorcycle engines, which wouldn't be terrible if they didn't sound as if they were ripped straight from the original NES Excitebike.
If you're a simulation racing fan still waiting for the genre to appear on the Wii, keep waiting. If you're a fan of arcade racing games, there are far more exciting and more playable games available for the Wii. Simply put, MotoGP is a disappointment all around.