By Jeremy Gibson

When the original “Guitar Hero” came out in 2006, music fans rejoiced.Harmonix delivered a game that provided an awesome soundtrack, easy-to-pick-up but hard-to-master game play, and one of the best party games ever made.

Now in its third installment, a new developer hopes to do what Harmonix did with its two predecessors.

Neversoft took the reigns for “Guitar Hero III,” and while the game is essentially the same as “GHI” and “GHII,” there are some notable differences.

Game play is essentially the same. While in career mode, you run through a vast array of songs, unlocking new and harder songs as you progress.

Neversoft did add a new multiplayer mode that allows players to battle each other. While battling, players can throw things at their opponents, causing various effects. For example, some power-ups make players play left-handed for a short time.

But let’s not overlook one of the biggest improvements of “GHIII:”online play. “GHIII” offers, for the first time, online play for co-op, face-off, pro face-off and battle mode.

The only problem lies in the PS3 version, because you can’t invite specific people into a game, meaning you will more likely be playing with some random person.

While all of the changes are exciting, seasoned GH players will notice some differences in the visual style as well as game play.

The window time the player has to successfully hit a note has been widely expanded, meaning you now have a longer period of time to strum the note before or after the signal.

Neversoft also slightly changed the HUB. A note counter has been incorporated into the display, which is helpful on the 360 version to help you see where you are in terms of achievements.

Other slight differences were made (the multiplier light is a tower of blocks up the side to show how close you are to the next multiplier level). It’s an interesting idea, but can pull away from the notes especially during some insane solo parts.

Graphically, the game holds the same weight as the last two installments. Neversoft did incorporate some graphically appealing stages that are symbolic of its style, but nothing that we haven’t seen before.

Possibly the coolest feature is that every system, the 360, PS3 and Wii, is linked to a community site, almost the same way that Halo 3 is.

Through this site you can research your stats and manage tournaments and clans. The site also has a little metagame on it.

One of the biggest reasons to buy “GHIII,” aside from the fact it’s just one awesome game, is the new wireless Les Pual controller.

The button layout and design has gone back to something resembling the PS2 version. The start and select buttons have been placed farther away from the strum so you won’t accidentally hit either while playing. The neck of the controller also pops off for easy storage and travel. The face of the guitar also pops off to allow you to customize your axe.

While “GHIII” has probably the best track list, featuring bands such as Foghat, Alice Coopers, AFI, The Sex Pistols, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Guns N Roses, Santana and Slayer, the absence of other legendary and influential bands such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin is disappointing. But there’s always hope for “GHIV.