Considering the XIII remake's original launch was a disaster, it's admirable that publisher Microids tried to fix things. Following the launch from developer PlayMagic, a new team, Tower Five, has been brought in to try and rework the release into something more appealing. The results are mixed, but it's definitely better.
XIII's legacy revolves largely around art direction. You play an amnesiac spy with all the personality of a piece of bread trying to uncover a government conspiracy, as you sink back into the world of espionage. Hyper-stylised with a cel-shaded look to resemble its source comics, the original version of the remake stripped much of that personality away. The new update restores it to a degree, but now it just looks like any cel-shaded game, rather than something unique. The title has a more consistent vision, but it's not one to create an enduring or memorable legacy.
The performance is noticeably improved. The original was littered with bugs, crashes, and frame rate problems. The new version hits a stable 60 frames-per-second on PS5, and crashes seem to be a thing of the past. There are occasional bugs, but they're relegated to texture problems or other harmless oddities that are easy to ignore.
With the game running well for the first time in two years, the gameplay gets a chance to shine, and this is where things falter. The gameplay just isn't very interesting. There's an impressive variety of weapons — and improvising with stray chairs or ashtrays is neat — but the shine wears off as you work through the eight-hour campaign. The level design doesn't help, as it's mostly bland. You go to a nice array of locales, but the missions aren't exciting. This includes many sequences of forced stealth and arbitrary fail-states, further hampered by poor, inconsistent AI. There's never a need for strategy, as enemies run at you in a single file line.
Online multiplayer is a nice addition, but given how few people came out to see the original release of this title, we can't imagine this will draw many back.
So is this an improvement over the original version of the remake? Absolutely. Tower Five seems to have done its best to re-work the experience without completely starting over, but it could only take it so far. This is one remake we really don't need.