In addition to the hand-to-hand skills and the P99, Bond can of course pick up weapons as he goes along. You can carry three in total, and can switch between them and swap them for new weapons as you find them. The only one you can't swap is the P99 - it is Bond's signature weapon, after all - but this still leaves you two other slots for the wide variety of pistols, machineguns, grenade launchers and sniper rifles that you will come across throughout the game.
A useful addition to the CoD4 engine is a Gears Of War-style 'cover' system that lets you use various features of the landscape. And you'll find yourself using it, a lot. Move towards any surface and tap A and Bond will press himself against it. You can then pop out of cover using the aim button and blast any bad guys, before dropping back in. Point in the direction of a different piece of cover and tap A again, and Bond will dash over to it - if you've played Gears of War, you'll know how this works, and it works equally well in this game. Those of you out there who might be thinking you won't need to use cover, because you're a sh*t-hot FPS expert, think again, because the bad guys in this game are smart, and they get smarter and deadlier the further you get into the game.
Often one of the biggest moans about a FPS, or indeed, any game which presents you with AI opponents, is that the bad guys either all seem to be totally stupid - running blindly into the open one after another to let you gun them down - or they always appear in the same place and run through the same patterns. Not in this game, oh no. The AI is absolutely top-notch, with the bad guys behaving for all the world like human players. They use cover, they provide covering fire for each other, they employ flanking tactics, and they think on their feet too. Shoot one who's hiding behind inadequate cover, and don't be surprised if his mate doesn't leg it away from you out of sight, and then reappear 10 seconds later behind you, having climbed the stairs, raced across a balcony and come at you from your blind side. These guys are Clever, with a capital 'C', and I was only playing on the second difficulty setting - I shudder to think what the opponents are like on the hardest one!
So... you've got lots of guns, challenging opponents, great environments... all in all, the elements of a great FPS. Except of course, that this is more than just an FPS, this is a Bond FPS. So as you play through, various other challenges come your way. There are door codes to crack, computers to hack, and stealth sections to tackle. These parts of the game could, if implemented badly, have harmed the gameplay, but thankfully they don't. The door cracking/computer hacking is all done by way of simple push-button puzzles. Press the right buttons at the right time, and you succeed. Fail, and you don't. Failure could mean you simply have to try the code over again, or it could mean that you get pounced on by a bunch of security guards and have a fight on your hands - either way it doesn't spoil the fun one iota.
Even the stealth sections - often the downfall in a game that isn't based solely around stealth - blend seamlessly in with the rest of the gameplay. Sometimes the stealth comes as part of the standard FPS fare, with your handler back at MI6 advising you to 'keep things quiet'. In this situation, it basically means you're better off creeping rather than running, avoiding/disabling cameras, and using takedowns or silenced weapons on the guards. In these sections however, if you do get heard, and guards get alerted, it's not the end of the level, back to the start, try it over; instead you have the chance to shoot your way out, as you'd expect of MI6's finest.
The only sections where you do fail if you get caught out are specific ones where you're required to get between two particular points without being seen. You might need to edge along a window ledge for example, without drawing the attention of guards inside the building. For this, the camera switches to a third person view, with Bond moving right to left (or left to right) and all you need to do is time your movement between windows or roaming searchlights to ensure that 007 doesn't get spotted. Sometimes this is accompanied by a 24-style split-screen to show the bad guys' movements, all of which enhances the cinematic feel. Even these though, don't penalise you too badly if you mess it up - you simply get a quick death animation and end up being put back at the point you were prior to starting out on the ledge.
The death animations themselves are worthy of a mention, as they're particularly Bond-esque, consisting of the familiar 'down the gun barrel' view followed by blood running down the screen. In a nice touch, as your energy gets low, the screen greys out, and the gun barrel begins to close in from the sides of the screen. This animation is a great visual cue to the fact that your energy is running low, as in the heat of the action, not everyone will be keeping an eye on their health. Your energy, as in CoD4, rebuilds after a few seconds if you can get into cover, and it's shown in the early stages of depletion by the Bond silhouette at the bottom left of the screen - as the colour drains out of it, so your energy level drops.