Niko Bellic

Niko Bellic is a fictional character and the playable protagonist of Rockstar North's 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV, the sixth main installment in the Grand Theft Auto series developed by Rockstar Games. He also appears in the game's episodic content The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, both released in 2009. He was voiced by Michael Hollick.

Niko Bellic
Grand Theft Auto character
Niko Bellic.jpg
Promotional artwork from Grand Theft Auto IV depicting Niko Bellic
First appearanceGrand Theft Auto IV (2008)
Last appearanceGrand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009)
Created byRockstar North
Voiced byMichael Hollick
Motion capture
In-universe information
GenderMale
OccupationSoldier (formerly)
Taxi driver
Gun-for-hire (formerly)
FamilyMilica Bellic (mother)
Roman Bellic (cousin)
Mallorie Bardas-Bellic (cousin-in-law)
Significant others
  • Karen Daniels / Michelle (ex-girlfriend)
  • Kate McReary (ex-girlfriend)
OriginEastern Europe

Niko is a war veteran from Eastern Europe who, at his cousin's, Roman Bellic, insistence, moves to Liberty City, a fictional city based on New York City, to pursue the American Dream and start a new life alongside Roman. However, Niko has additional motivations to travel there, in particular to search for the man who betrayed his military unit in the war and exact revenge. Though he attempts to leave his violent past behind, Niko soon becomes entangled in a world of violence, crime, and corruption as he moves up in the criminal underworld of the city, working for various contacts in an attempt to earn enough money to secure a better lifestyle for himself and Roman, and find the traitor as soon as possible.

NationalityEdit

Niko's nationality is never specified in the game, and has been a subject of some debate.[1] Prior to the game's launch, it was believed by some that he was Russian, Serbian or Croatian.[2][3][4] Executive producer Sam Houser spoke on the matter saying that Niko is "from that grey part of broken-down Eastern Europe", suggesting that Niko's nationality was left intentionally vague or to the interpretation of the player.[5]

BiographyEdit

Early lifeEdit

Niko was born in 1978 to Milica Bellic and an unnamed father. Milica, who possesses a maternal and caring nature, regrets that her sons have been forced to endure such hardships as children, including their abusive, alcoholic father. Niko participated in an unnamed war as an infantryman, tank operator, and helicopter pilot, during which he witnessed numerous atrocities which traumatised him, leading to his cynical view on life. After his unit of fifteen men from his village were ambushed by the enemy, Niko escaped and concluded that the unit has been betrayed by one of their own soldiers. He learned that there are two other survivors, Florian Cravic and Darko Brevic, and vows to search for the traitor. After the war, Niko experienced difficulty leading a normal life, and his elder brother was killed in action. Knowing only violence, Niko turned to the Balkanic criminal underworld. Niko joined a smuggling and trafficking ring run by Russian criminal Ray Bulgarin. During one smuggling run into Italy, the boat that Niko was working on sank in the Adriatic Sea.[6] Niko swam to safety, but Bulgarin accused him of escaping with the money. Niko later joined the merchant navy to flee from Bulgarin, befriended the crew of the Platypus cargo ship, and contemplated his cousin Roman's requests for him to come to Liberty City in the United States.[7]

Arrival in Liberty CityEdit

Once in Liberty City in 2008, Niko quickly realises that Roman's stories of success were exaggerated: he lives in a small, decrepit apartment[8] and owes gambling debts across the city.[9][10][11][12] Niko's military skills give him an advantage over the street thugs of Liberty City.[13][14] Niko protects Roman from loan sharks, and soon begins making money and contacts that can help him locate Florian within the city.[15] His professional and personal relationships expand over the course of the game.[16]

While working for Roman's taxi company and protecting him from loan sharks, Niko meets and befriends several Broker residents, including Yardie underboss Little Jacob and car entrepreneur Brucie Kibbutz, for whom he carries out a few jobs. He is also forced to work for Vlad Glebov, Roman's Russian loan shark, in order to pay off Roman's debts, but eventually kills him after learning he slept with Roman's girlfriend Mallorie. In retaliation, Niko and Roman are kidnapped by Russian mobsters on the orders of Mikhail Faustin and Dimitri Rascalov, but the former, not bothered by Vlad's murder, releases them and employs Niko as a hitman. Niko quickly discovers Faustin's true nature after being ordered to kill the son of Kenny Petrović, the most powerful Russian mobster in Liberty City. When Petrović threatens retaliation, Dimitri convinces Niko to assassinate Faustin to make amends, but soon betrays him and brings him before Ray Bulgarin, who demands what he is owed. In the ensuing shootout, Dimitri and Bulgarin escape, while Niko kills the Russsian mobsters with Little Jacob's help. However, he and Roman later witness their apartment and taxi company being burned down by Dimitri's men.

Search for the traitor and a better lifeEdit

Forced to move to the Bohan district and lay low for a while, Niko begins making new criminal contacts, including several drug dealears and the Irish mob, for whom he begins working for in an attempt to secure a better lifestyle for himself and Roman and locate Florian. In the process, he befriends Irish mobster Patrick McReary after helping him carry out a bank robbery, and discovers that his girlfriend Michelle is an undercover government agent actually named Karen, who entraps Niko into working for her agency, known only by its cover: the United Liberty Paper. Niko assassinates several known or suspected terrorists for the agency in exchange for clearing his criminal record and assistance in finding the man who betrayed his unit.

With most of his employers eventually killed or arrested, Niko also works for Ray Boccino, a caporegime in the Pegorino Crime Family, whom he assists him with a major diamond deal that goes awry. Nontheless, Boccino helps Niko locate Florian, now the homosexual Bernie Crane, only to discover he is not the traitor. Afterwards, Niko carries out jobs for the Gambetti family in exchange for their help in tracking down Darko, the real traitor, and for the Pegorino family, ultimately earning the respect of Don Jimmy Pegorino, who orders Niko to kill Boccino under the suspicion that he was a police informant. He also helps Patrick kidnap the daughter of the Ancelotti family's Don to ransom her for the diamonds, but they are lost due to Bulgarin's unexpected interference.

During this time, Niko continues his conflict with Dimitri; he rescues Roman after he is kidnapped by Dimitri's men, thwarts his plot to blackmail Liberty City's vice-mayor (who is secretly dating Bernie), and disrupts his drug operations during his work for the Mafia. He and Roman ultimately secure the lifestyle they sought after the latter rebuilds his taxi company and buys a new apartment in Algonquin using the insurance money from his formerly destroyed business. Roman also proposes to Mallorie, who accepts.

Tying up loose endsEdit

Eventually, the United Liberty Paper tracks down Darko and brings him into Liberty City for Niko to decide his fate. Having achieved closure on his past, Niko is summoned by Pegorino for one final favour: to help with an extremely lucrative deal on heroin in collusion with Dimitri. Niko must either strike the deal with Dimitri, or exact revenge on him.[17]

Should Niko go through with the deal, Dimitri again betrays him and takes the heroin for himself, forcing Niko to kill the buyers and retrieve the money.[18] At Roman's wedding, an assassin sent by Dimitri unintentionally kills Roman with a stray bullet.[19] Aided by Little Jacob, a devastated and vengeful Niko kills Dimitri, who in turn killed Pegorino.[20] Later, Niko is informed by Mallorie that she is pregnant with Roman's child, whom he vows to protect. Should Niko choose to exact revenge, he storms the Platypus and fights his way through Dimitri's men, ultimately killing him.[21] At Roman's wedding, Pegorino, furious after Niko's betrayal, targets him in a drive-by shooting, but ends up accidentally killing Niko's new girlfriend, Patrick's sister Kate.[19] Aided by Little Jacob and Roman, Niko kills Pegorino, who had been targeted by the Liberty City underworld.[22] Later, Roman informs Niko that Mallorie is pregnant, and that if the baby is a girl, they will name her in Kate's memory.

With all loose ends in his life tied up, Niko muses on the American Dream and concludes that it is a hollow promise, which no one can truly achieve.

Later lifeEdit

In Grand Theft Auto V, set in 2013, Niko is briefly mentioned by Patrick, who claims he has not heard of him since 2008. Lester Crest also briefly refers to "an Eastern European making moves in Liberty City" who "went quiet", implying Niko left his life of crime behind. An easter egg in the game mentions that Niko still works for Roman’s taxi company.[citation needed]

CharacteristicsEdit

Niko is portrayed as a very down-to-business person, and angers easily. He has a dry, sarcastic sense of humour, and often makes acerbic remarks. Though he regrets his past crimes, he feels that his soul is permanently tainted, and that killing is all he can do. Niko appears to be a more mature, empathetic, and sensible person than many of his acquaintances. His female acquaintances often point out that Niko has sophisticated manners and appears to be a very decent person. Many times he attempts to resolve conflicts between two parties without the use of violence.

The most significant aspect of Niko's personality is his cynicism, which he gained in the war.[23][24] Although generally he is a caring individual, Niko's realistic view of life allows him the ability to manipulate people. Niko's biggest weakness is his inability to let go of the past, and the desire for revenge is a driving force in many of his decisions. Despite his long involvement with criminal activity, Niko holds a somewhat sympathetic view of law enforcement, stating that cops are just people trying to survive. Near the end of the game, Niko expresses a desire to move on from his criminal past and get a fresh start. Niko has a distaste for drugs despite his frequent involvement in the drugs trade and regularly refuses offers of marijuana by Little Jacob.

PortrayalEdit

 
Michael Hollick, voice of Niko Bellic, won a Spike TV award for "Best Performance by a Human Male"

Niko Bellic is voiced by Michael Hollick.[25] Hollick was paid about $100,000 for his voice acting and motion-capture work over the course of about 15 months from 2006 to 2007. Hollick was paid about $1,050 a day for his work on the game, about 50% more than the standard Screen Actors Guild-negotiated rate for actors, although he claimed it was still a fraction of the income he would get from a film or TV-show performance, and that he was upset about not getting residuals from game sales, putting the blame on the union for not securing such agreements.[26] Hollick told The New York Times that while he was a theater student at Carnegie Mellon University he developed a talent for dialects.[26][27][28][29]

Russian actor Vladimir Mashkov claims he was in discussions with Rockstar Games to voice the character and that the character's appearance is based on him, specifically from his role of the Tracker in the 2001 movie Behind Enemy Lines, but he ultimately turned down the offer.[30] Rockstar Games have not commented on Mashkov's claims.

Other appearancesEdit

Niko plays a minor role in both of Grand Theft Auto IV's expansion packs, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony (both 2009), which take place simultaneously with the storyline of the base game, from the perspective of Johnny Klebitz and Luis Lopez, respectively.[31] He appears as an NPC in the missions that cross over with the base game.

In The Lost and Damned, Niko appears in the missions "Buyer's Market", where he assists Johnny and Playboy X on a drug deal that goes awry, and "Collector's Item", where he oversees the diamond deal with the Jewish Mob alongside Johnny, which is ambushed by Luis. He also makes a cameo appearance in the first mission of the expansion, "Clean and Serene", walking down the streets of Alderney (although this is likely an oversight, as the mission takes place before the bridges to Alderney open in Grand Theft Auto IV, meaning Niko couldn't have possibly been there at that time). Niko is indirectly mentioned by Brian Jeremy at the end of the mission "It's War" as a "Polak" guy who killed Jason Michaels, only for Billy Grey to reply "I think he was a Serb", and then dismiss the idea, claiming that Jason was killed by the Angels of Death.

In The Ballad of Gay Tony, Niko appears in the first mission, "I Luv LC", as one of the masked bank robbers holding Luis hostage during the heist of the Bank of Liberty. He appears again shortly after in that mission, almost running Luis over with his car on the pedestrian crossing. In "Not So Fast", Niko appears again alongside Johnny during the diamond deal which is ambushed by Luis. His final appearance is in "Ladies Half Price", where he and Patrick McReary attempt to exchange Gracie Ancelotti for the diamonds in Luis and Tony Prince's possession, only for the deal to be ambushed by Ray Bulgarin's men.

Niko is mentioned several times in Grand Theft Auto V (2013), indirectly by Lester Crest and directly by Patrick. His LifeInvader profile also can be seen on Jimmy De Santa's laptop as an easter egg. In the "Collector's Edition" of Grand Theft Auto Online, players can choose what their character is to look like by selecting between different parents; Niko is one of the special parents available, meaning that players can select Niko so that their character has a level of resemblance to him.[32][33]

ReceptionEdit

Niko's character has been well received by critics, as well as by gamers. He was voted as the 14th top character of the 2000s decade by readers of Game Informer.[34] In 2008, The Age ranked Niko as the second greatest Xbox character of all time, as "few characters in video game history have provided us with such a spectrum of emotions. Niko's tale is such a roller coaster ride that by the climax you'd be forgiven for feeling exhausted and perhaps even a little numb."[35] IGN's Hilary Goldstein commented "Niko's struggles with his ruthless nature never inhibit the gameplay, but instead enhance the emotional gravity of a brilliant storyline. The more absurd the action becomes, the greater we feel the very real pathos of Niko Bellic."[36] Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer opined Niko "himself is quickly sympathetic - his moral latitude is rooted in horrible war stories, but he's warm-hearted - and imposing."[37] GameDaily included him in a top 25 list of video game anti-heroes, stating that he has a heart-of-gold beneath his rough exterior.[38] In another article, GameDaily listed the "scary foreigner" as one of their top 25 video game archetypes, using Niko as an example of this due to his "European thug" appearance.[39] They also used him as an example for the "walking stereotype" archetype.[40] In 2011, readers of Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition voted Niko as the 13th-top video game character of all time.[41]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Cowen, Nick (28 April 2008). "Grand Theft Auto IV: the biggest and the best". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  2. ^ Workman, Robert (16 October 2007). "Grand Theft Auto IV". Businessweek.com. Retrieved 30 July 2010. He's a Russian immigrant with a life of crime and several problems at home.
  3. ^ Schiesel, Seth (21 May 2008). "A Video Game Star and His Less-Than-Stellar Pay". New York Times. Niko is a war-scarred Serbian...
  4. ^ "Top 10 Video Games of 2008". New York: Nydailynews.com. 2 January 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2010. An ex-soldier comes to America from Croatia, seeking revenge for a wartime betrayal.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Crispin Boyer (27 April 1008). "Sweet Land of Liberty". Electronic Gaming Monthly: 44–56. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2008. He's from that gray part of broken-down Eastern Europe, a war-torn area -Sam Houser
  6. ^ Schiesel, Seth (28 April 2008). "Grand Theft Auto Takes On New York". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 1. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  7. ^ Stuart, Keith (29 April 2008). "How Grand Theft Auto smashed the system". Guardian. London: Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  8. ^ "Grand Theft Auto IV". Ur magazine. Rogers Publishing. p. 64.
  9. ^ Boyer, Crispin (27 April 2008). "Grand Theft Auto IV Review". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  10. ^ Kendall, Nigel (26 April 2008). "Grand Theft Auto IV the drive of your life". Times Online. London: Times Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  11. ^ Taves, Scott (28 April 2008). "'Grand Theft Auto' will blow you away". NBC News. Microsoft. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  12. ^ "Grand Theft Auto IV Review for Xbox 360". gamespot.com. CBS Interactive Inc. 29 April 2008. Archived from the original on 23 April 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  13. ^ "Grand Theft Auto IV". Rockstar Games. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  14. ^ Thompson, Clive (2 May 2008). "Games Without Frontiers: 'Grand Theft Auto IV' Delivers Deft Satire of Street Life". Wired.com. Condé Nast Digital. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  15. ^ Gray, Sadie (4 May 2008). "Grand Theft Auto IV Making a killing is the name of the game". Times Online. London: Times Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  16. ^ Waite, Roger (27 April 2008). "Its just a game says man behind Grand Theft Auto". Times Online. London: Times Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  17. ^ Rockstar North (29 April 2008). Grand Theft Auto IV (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) (1.0 ed.). Rockstar Games. Level/area: "One Last Thing".
  18. ^ Rockstar North (29 April 2008). Grand Theft Auto IV (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) (1.0 ed.). Rockstar Games. Level/area: "If the Price is Right".
  19. ^ a b Rockstar North (29 April 2008). Grand Theft Auto IV (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) (1.0 ed.). Rockstar Games. Level/area: "Mr and Mrs Bellic".
  20. ^ Rockstar North (29 April 2008). Grand Theft Auto IV (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) (1.0 ed.). Rockstar Games. Level/area: "A Revenger's Tragedy".
  21. ^ Rockstar North (29 April 2008). Grand Theft Auto IV (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) (1.0 ed.). Rockstar Games. Level/area: "A Dish Served Cold".
  22. ^ Rockstar North (29 April 2008). Grand Theft Auto IV (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) (1.0 ed.). Rockstar Games. Level/area: "Out of Commission".
  23. ^ Schiesel, Seth (21 May 2008). "A Video Game Star and His Less-Than-Stellar Pay". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  24. ^ Goldstein, Hilary (29 April 2008). "IGN: Grand Theft Auto IV Review". Uk.xbox360.ign.com. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  25. ^ "Jack Black announces new game trailers at video game awards". Daily Telegraph. News Limited. 16 December 2008. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  26. ^ a b Schiesel, Seth (21 May 2008). "A Video Game Star and His Less-Than-Stellar Pay". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. E1. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  27. ^ Totilo, Stephen (11 April 2007). "'GTA IV' Details: Who's Niko Bellic? And Where's Staten Island". MTV News. MTV. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  28. ^ Androvich, Mark (21 May 2008). "Voice of GTA IV's Niko Bellic wants more respect". Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  29. ^ "About Michael Hollick". Michaelhollick.com. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  30. ^ Posner, Vladimir (27 September 2010). "Vladimir Mashkov's interview". Posner (TV show) [ru]. Episode 61 (in Russian). Event occurs at 32:30. Channel One Russia. Retrieved 30 July 2018. Нет, таких слов в моём лексиконе, „не мой уровень“, не было никогда в жизни. Мне, прям, сейчас аж стыдно. Дело в том, что это была странная такая, полуаферистическая вещь. Я очень рад, что эта игра собрала за месяц полмиллиарда долларов — это идёт разговор о GTA IV. То есть это самая продаваемая игра в мире. И они использовали мой образ из картины Джона Мура под названием „В тылу врага“. Вот, им понравилось такое. Я очень старался, собирал по кусочкам этот бомжеватый вид. И мне не сказали тогда, что это такое. Может быть, я озвучил бы. Не знаю. Ну, это интересно, часть профессии, но не особенно меня это увлекает. <…> Я даже не знал, что это, я не принял это всерьёз.
  31. ^ Totilo, Stephen (23 January 2009). "'Hell No' - No New Lines For Niko Bellic in 'Grand Theft Auto' Expansion". MTV Multiplayer. Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  32. ^ "More Details and Screens from the Grand Theft Auto V Special and Collector's Edition Digital Content". Rockstar Games. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  33. ^ "Some More Details on Grand Theft Auto Online". Rockstar Games. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  34. ^ Vore, Bryan (3 December 2010). "Readers' Top 30 Characters Results Revealed". Game Informer. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  35. ^ "The Top 50 Xbox Characters of All Time". The Age. Fairfax Media. 30 September 2008. Archived from the original on 6 October 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  36. ^ Goldstein, Hillary (29 April 2008). "Grand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition Review". IGN. Ziff Davis, LLC. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  37. ^ Bramwell, Tom (27 April 2008). "Grand Theft Auto IV Review". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. p. 2. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  38. ^ "Top 25 Game Anti-Heroes". GameDaily.com. AOL Inc. 25 April 2009. p. 17. Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  39. ^ Buffa, Chris (29 January 2009). "Top 25 Game Archetypes". GameDaily.com. AOL Inc. p. 13. Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  40. ^ Buffa, Chris (29 January 2009). "Top 25 Game Archetypes". GameDaily.com. AOL Inc. p. 17. Archived from the original on 11 February 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  41. ^ Marchiafava, Jeff (16 February 2011). "Guinness Names Top 50 Video Game Characters Of All Time". Game Informer. Retrieved 2 February 2018.