Gameplay: If you aren't familiar with breakout, it basically goes like this: you have a ball and a paddle, you hit the ball with the paddle so that the ball will in turn, hit and break some blocks at the top of the screen. All breakout clones follow this pattern.
BeatBall takes things further with different block types, 120 different levels, and power-ups for your paddle and ball. The brick types vary in the number of hits it takes to destroy them and in behavior. Some are indestructible, some are moving, and some are even invisible.
While this does add variety, I find the way most of these blocks are placed is annoying. Multi-hit blocks are a nice addition when the ball gets stuck bouncing around between them, however when you're trying to take out a single multi-hit block, it's a real pain. The same thing goes for invisible blocks, but these are generally well placed to surprise you rather than make levels take ages to end.
The power-up system is very interesting (although some are actually power-downs), when you destroy a block, there's a chance a power-up for either your paddle or you'll ball will come falling down. You then have to catch the power-up with your paddle to get it.
Power-ups come in two categories, ball power-ups(represented by a green, teal, or silver blob) and paddle power-ups(represented by a purple or gold blob). The silver power-ups instantly take effect and make your ball send off sparks that destroy blocks, the other power ups must be activated. You activate a ball power-up with the left mouse button and a paddle power-up with the right. The multi ball type power ups have cumulative effects but if you use one when your ball is a demolition ball, it will return to normal. The paddle power-ups are all mutually exclusive. Two of them, the sticky paddle and the gun paddle, require you click the right mouse button again to fire; as a result, you have to be very wary of paddle power-ups while using these items because you could be forced to take a small paddle or a split paddle.
Because of the limitations, the upgrades have a very situational aspect to them and give the game a lot more depth than most breakout clones. The system also has good synergy with the various block types by reducing how annoying they can be without reducing the variety that they add. Overall, the additions BeatBall makes to the breakout model create a very refined experience. I should however note that another breakout clone, dx-ball, did a lot of this stuff first.
Graphics and Sound: Breakout clones lend themselves to very simplistic graphics and BeatBall follows this trend. The graphics aren't ugly but they aren't amazing either. They are simply adequate. The same can be said for the gameplay sounds. The music is a bit better because the game author is a musician.
Recommended Settings: Whatever you want. The graphics and controls don't interfere with the ability to play the game.
Conclusion: BeatBall is a fantastic breakout clone in that it is very refined; it is a must download for breakout fans. It does not, however, push out into other genres, so if you don't like breakout games, don't bother downloading it. If you don't know whether you like breakout games, give it a try.