There are various other non-FPS elements to the game, such as when you're crossing a narrow walkway for instance, and you must keep Bond's balance by centring a white dot on a special balance meter with one stick while you move Bond across with the other, but they all work well as part of the action, rather than detracting from it. I won't give away all of them here - you want to have some surprises, right?
Speaking of surprises, it's worth giving a quick warning here - because the plot of the game closely follows that of the film, if you don't want to spoil the movie, then watch it before you play this! That said, the game doesn't just cover the plot of Quantum of Solace, it also covers the better part of Casino Royale too. If you haven't seen the new Bond film yet then you've probably seen the trailer - remember the part where the sultry-looking female asks Bond: 'Have you lost someone too?'. Well in the game, this comes after a particularly bracing bit of desert combat, and it causes 007 to go into a mammoth flashback, right back to the marketplace chase scene at the start of the first movie ('Stop touching your ear!') and then proceeds to offer action-packed levels covering just about every section of said movie, up to and including one of the epic final scenes where Bond must battle bad guys in a building in Venice which is collapsing into the water below.
Each stage is tied together via animated cut-scenes, either CGI-versions of scenes from the movie (ie: where we see Bond racing cars, shooting and/or fighting) or through the eyes of those monitoring events back at MI6, where we get to watch computer readouts, voice analysis programs and digital world maps that show what 007 is up to while M discusses Bond's actions with various MI6 office staff. Sounds a bit strange, but it works extremely well, and the cut scenes must be covering the loading sequences, because after the first load you don't have to sit through another loading screen, and thus the action just flows seamlessly from level to level, helping you to lose yourself in the game.
And of course, there's the multiplayer. At this point in the proceedings, I haven't been able to get greatly into this, because this being a review from an advance copy of the game, there aren't too many people online to play against. But with the CoD4 engine, a wealth of different game modes including some uniquely Bond-themed ones, and some really, really excellent multiplayer environments many of which - dare I say it - actually surpass those in CoD4, nobody who buys this with online gaming in mind is going to be disappointed. Particularly noteworthy game options include the 'Bond Vs' mode, which has one player pitted against absolutely everyone else playing as members of the 'Organisation' (in true 007 style) where the bad guys must detonate bombs and Bond must prevent them by either disarming the bombs or 'neutralising' the enemy personnel. Bond Evasion has a team of MI6 agents escorting a VIP player (or 'package') from point to point, while the Organisation team attempt to assassinate him, and, GoldenEye fans, the 'Golden Gun' mode makes a welcome return, where one player gets to wield Scaramanga's ostentatious pistol which kills with just one shot.
'... this is GoldenEye for a new generation. And praise doesn't come much higher than that.'
So... that's the pros - what about the cons? Well, there aren't that many, to be honest. If I was being really picky, then there are the interactive cut-scenes - the 'takedown' ones aren't so bad, but at certain points in the game there are more protracted interactive cut scenes where you're required to hit a long sequence of buttons, like a video game version of Simon Says, and this means that you're focussing on which button to press next rather than actually watching and enjoying the cut-scene action. Plus these sections are almost impossible to fail, which begs the question: why not just forget the button pushing altogether? But that's just a little niggle.
More importantly, a few bugs seem to have made it into the final game. While playing over the space of a week for this review, I encountered a few unusual events - one time a level started without any background music, for instance, and had to be reset to bring back the audio. Another time, I was playing through a level and no bad guys appeared at all, which meant that the door I needed to get through wasn't triggered, and I had to restart from the last checkpoint. And on a third occasion, for some entirely unknown reason, the game loaded in French, and as there's no 'switch language' option in-game I had to turn it off and load up again. All minor niggles, admittedly, but you'd hope not to see the like in a finished release.
Anyway, by now you should now have some idea of what this game entails. I could talk a little more about the unlockable content, like the MI6 debriefing stages, but all of that is basically window dressing and - honestly - only there for the real Bond geeks as the icing on the cake. No, what I think I need to do before I finish is tackle that tricky question that I posed at the start of this review - how does this game match up to the legendary GoldenEye? Before I do though, let me just lay out my credentials: one of my very first jobs as a fledgling video games journo was to complete, from scratch, an in-depth guide for the (then) just-released GoldenEye, including producing, by hand, detailed top-down maps of every level (with, I might add, absolutely no help from Rare). Add to that the fact that every lunchtime and after work for about two years, myself and various similarly obsessed colleagues played constantly on the deathmatch levels until we all knew every stage so well that we could navigate them in our sleep, and it's no exaggeration to say that I know GoldenEye inside out, and I can safely claim to be 'a big fan'. Now usually at this stage in a Bond review, it's traditional to say something like 'this newest Bond title certainly shows a lot of promise, but it can't quite match up to the originality and flare of GoldenEye'.
Note that I say 'usually'. For while I can't quite believe that I'm about to say it, I have to say that - at last - one company appears to have managed to do the impossible. To say that this game is or isn't better than GoldenEye would be disingenuous - GoldenEye is a game more than ten years old on a console generations behind current technology. Comparing Quantum Of Solace and GoldenEye like for like now would just be foolish. However, what I feel that I can say is that if the talented team of game developers who wowed gamers so long ago with that particular N64 title, set to work to produce it again now with current generation technology, then Quantum Of Solace would be the game that they would create. Or to put it another way: this is GoldenEye for a new generation. And praise doesn't come much higher than that.