Stay out of pool halls: Play Billard 3D on your PC!

Play this free 3D pool game with a mouse, not a cue stick.

Billard 3D is a 3D "pocket billiards" game, or what everyone knows as "pool." With a realistic game field and the capability to approach virtually any shot from any angle and hit just the right spot with just the right amount of force, the only thing that's missing is the ashtrays and cigar smoke.

Billard 3D doesn't take up much space for a 3D game, and you don't need multiple video cards to do it justice; just a decent graphics capability as well as a sound card and loudspeakers, if you want to hear the game's realistic sound effects. If you've ever used Google Earth or any program where you use your cursor to navigate a 3D view, Billard 3D will make sense. The game's normal mode is a full-screen view of a pool parlor with a regulation pocket billiard table. You can choose single-player mode, in which you play against the house, or multiple players and identities. You have your choice of games, but we started with a one-player session of the default game, 8-Ball. It only took a minute or so to get a feel for the game's motion. The player's view is along the cue stick, centered on the cue ball, which we could move around the table with the mouse. Just like a real pool player, we could circle the table, lean in, and even zoom right in on the ball to set up ultraprecise shots. Unlike real pool players, we could also hover over the table for a clear overhead view. We set the force level and made our break, which was hardly thunderous but not bad for a first go.

In "The Music Man," huckster Harold Hill warned Iowans that the town's new pool table would cause youngsters to neglect their chores. We're afraid we have to issue much the same dire warnings about Billard 3D, though perhaps hanging out in a virtual pool hall exposes players to less danger than the real thing. However, this game's power to keep young people from their chores is every bit as real.

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