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Metal Max 4 promises post-apocalyptic tank ridin' and havoc-wreakin' for 3DS

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Metal Max is an RPG series that's mostly been ignored by Western publishers, with the 2006 PlayStation 2 spin-off Metal Saga still the only game to get an official English release. It's a shame because the franchise puts into one package so many of the tropes that red-blooded gamers worldwide love: a post-apocalyptic landscape; the ability to drive cool tanks and sports cars around said landscape; big guns; and they were also doing the "heavily armored canine sidekick" thing long before Call of Duty made it mainstream.

Maybe this lack of attention will change with Metal Saga 4, announced by Kadokawa Games in this week's issue of Famitsu magazine. Developed by most of the main team from the original Metal Max (a 1991 NES release in Japan), the game stars Hinata, a kid who lives with his dad and sister in a land that was nuked to pieces 50 years ago. Hinata doesn't realize it, but he's a "Hot Seed," a special type of human being kept in cryogenic suspension since before the apocalypse. He finds out quick once some evil folk kidnap his father, and he and his sister Sasha (who can transform into a motorbike) set off to fix this.

Metal Max 4 marks a bump up in development budget from previous games in the series. The game's fully in 3D now, characters have in-game voiced dialogue, and there's an animated intro in the works by Studio 4°C. As with other games in the series, you're given a pretty hefty amount of freedom by modern JRPG standards, whether it's traveling around the world, tracking down wanted bounties, or just building the coolest Mad Max-style battle buggy you can, it's all up to you.

The Nintendo 3DS title is due out this fall in Japan.