If you’re in the market for a free online pool game, 8 Ball Pool has you covered. Instead of offering every kind of pool under the sun, the game maintains a steely focus and delivers exactly what it sets out to deliver: a simple, well-made online game of standard 8 ball pool.
Probably the most off-putting thing about 8 Ball Pool is that you have to be online to play. There’s no single-player mode or computer opponents, so every match you play is against a real-life person, and takes place in real time. If one player leaves the game, they have a handful of seconds to come back, or else they forfeit and lose the match.
Beyond that, it’s a pretty basic pool game. You and an opponent throw in a handful of chips and square off against each other. The control mechanics are simple and intuitive, and set up so you’ll never take a shot on accident. As you line up your shots, onscreen guides show you where your cue ball will go, and give an idea which direction your target ball will roll.
Each player has a reasonable amount of time to take a shot, but not so much that you’ll start getting antsy when it’s not your turn– unless, of course, the player is a pro and is wiping the table with you. Some minor flourishes are included, like a chat mechanism that lets you send common phrases like “Good game,” “Nice shot,” and “Oops.” In our experience, almost no one took advantage of that feature, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
As you play, you gain experience points and level up. Reaching certain levels opens new venues. This just means the pool tables are lined by different decorative wood and the entry fees– and potential rewards– are greater.
At various regular times you’re awarded free chips, or you can purchase them in batches using real money. You can also purchase single-use power-ups that extend your aim guides, or increase your maximum spin and overall power. This is somewhat unfortunate, because power-ups make the game a little less fair. They’re not helpful enough that using them secures a win, but they do give an edge to people willing to open their wallets.
Overall, 8 Ball Pool is a solid game well worth picking up for pool fans. Some people might be disappointed that it doesn’t offer more types of pool games, but we like the tight focus. We wish it had a single-player mode, and we could do without the power-ups, but overall 8 Ball Pool is a winner.