Vehicular combat games (also known as just vehicular combat or car combat) are typically video or computer games where the primary objectives of gameplay includes vehicles, usually armed with machine guns, missiles, molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, hand grenades, and other improvised weapons, attempting to destroy vehicles controlled by the CPU or by opposing players. The genre normally features a variety of different vehicles available for play, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and special attack abilities. Players may also unlock hidden vehicles by completing certain in-game tasks. Traditionally, vehicular combat games focus on fast-paced action inside the vehicle, rarely, if ever, concerning themselves with role-playing or other elements. Games may include racing themes, but they are generally secondary to the action.
Vehicular combat games normally follow a simple play pattern; the player must defeat increasing numbers of increasingly skilled enemies, often in increasingly complex battlefields, before facing off against a final, super-powerful, boss character. Vehicular combat games differ from traditional racing games both in the combat aspect and in the general lack of any set path for players to follow, instead allowing them to explore each level at their leisure. The complexity and strategy required to complete games vary, from the careful resource maintenance and intense story-driven plotlines of the Interstate '76 series to straightforward smashups like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Crush Hour. Often the primary plot will involve a contest or competition of some sort, encouraging the various characters to fight and destroy one another to obtain a reward. The Twisted Metal has been attributed as the first "true" vehicular combat game, without cartoony graphics as seen in kart racing games.
This subgenre of vehicular combat involves mech robots, or mecha, as the vehicle for combat. For most mech games, they are played in either first-person or third-person view style. Other games are based on popular Anime TV shows such as the various Gundam series, Robotech, and Evangelion. Also, games with a mech theme are featured in RPG games such as Xenosaga and the Front Mission series.