A real-life skateboarder who bellyflops or cannonballs onto a staircase after missing a steep grind rail would likely be looking at an extended hospital stay.

But such bone-crushing antics can actually generate cash in the safe, virtual world of "Skate 2" ($59.99, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), the EA Black Box studio follow-up to its popular 2007 genre debut.

The Thrasher Magazine "Hall of Meat" feature, in which skaters can purposely bail out of a trick to maximize body damage for the camera, is one of several additions that make "Skate 2" a fun, fast-paced game that at times can be excruciatingly difficult.

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Skaters can now grab onto a car's bumper and "skitch" a free ride a la Marty McFly up a steep hill or to another part of town. Or they can jump off their boards to head up a flight of stairs or move a ramp or rail into a better position for the next trick.

The game's detailed and accurate animations and sound effects really make you feel like skating, and the developers provide an expansive cityscape in which to play. It offers plenty of races, trick competitions and "Own the spot" challenges to keep skaters busy, and this new installment has added an online cooperative mode.

The "Skate 2" plot centers on your customizable character, who returns to the fictional town of San Vanelona after it was apparently destroyed and rebuilt while you served a five-year prison sentence. Unfortunately, New San Van is now replete with Mongocorp security guards just waiting to bounce skaters off their boards.

Upon your release, you're handed your skateboard and tasked with trying to reclaim the city's numerous skate-friendly locations.

The game offers an expansive variety of tricks compared with its predecessor while holding true to the original title's "FlickIt" control scheme. The left analog stick controls your skater's direction while various right-stick flicks perform tricks such as a quick down-and-up for a basic ollie.

There's an amazingly vast trick repertoire, but the control differences between some can be extremely subtle so you won't always pull off the exact move you're attempting. That's fine in free skate mode when you're just trying to look cool, but it can be a real pain when you're challenged to perform a specific combination.

Another frustration is that it's often too difficult to maintain your momentum along a straight path when trying to set up a trick. I often find myself veering off-course just before a jump only to tumble down a staircase rather than grind down its rail.

But the amazing thing about this game is that it motivates me to keep trying, and once I finally nail a trick I'm looking for the next challenge. Perhaps I'm just a glutton for "Hall of Meat" punishment.

Three-and-a-half out of four stars.

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Nintendo Wii owners get a slightly different take on the series with "Skate It" ($49.99), a sort of "Skate 1 1/2" falling between the original title and the sequel.

While "Skate 2" is set in a rebuilt New San Vanelona, "Skate It" takes place in a desolate, yet-to-be-rebuilt San Van occupied by just you and your camera guy.

The game is customized to work with several Wii-specific control schemes, one of which incorporates the Wii Balance Board, a rectangular, pressure-sensitive platform that comes with "Wii Fit."

In theory, the device should perfectly emulate a skateboard, but the experience falls way short of expectations.

The best control mix is to use the motion-sensitive Wii controller with the Nunchuk, controlling direction with the Nunchuk while flicking the Wii remote for various tricks.

The "Skate 2" difficultly performing an exact intended trick is multiplied in "Skate It" when bringing a motion-sensitive remote into the mix.

Two-and-a-half stars.