Niko Bellic is a fictional character and the playable protagonist of Rockstar Games' 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV, the sixth main installment in Rockstars Games' Grand Theft Auto Series. He also makes non-playable appearances in the game'episodic content The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, both released in 2009. Michael Hollick provided the character's voice and motion capture.
Niko is a war veteran from Easten Europe, where he witnessed some of the worst atrocities humans are capable of, causing him to develop a very cynical, unrealistic view on life. After becoming involved with a Russian crime syndicate and discovering that his unit was sold out to enemy forces, he decides to move to Liberty City to pursue the American Dream, inspired by the tales of luxury and riches of his cousin Roman, who had been living there for several years. Upon arrival, however, he discovers that those stories were large exaggerations, and attempts to improve his and Roman's financial situation, quickly becoming involved with the local criminal underworld. As the game's story progresses, Niko works for various prominent crime figures to this ends, as well as in hopes of finding the traitor who betrayed his unit in the war, while slowly learning to let go of his past and quest for revenge, and that attempting to leave the criminal life comes with major risks.
The character was well received, with many critics citing his maturity and moral ambiguity as elements that enhance the emotional aspects of the game's storyline. For his role, Hollick won Best Performance by a Human Male at theSpike Video Game Awards.
Niko's nationality is never specified in the game, and has been a subject of some debate.Prior to the game's launch, it was believed by some that he was Russian, Serbian or Croation.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.
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.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.
Once in Liberty City in 2008, Niko quickly realises that Roman's stories of success were exaggerated: he lives in a small, decrepit apartment and owes gambling debts across the city.Niko's military skills give him an advantage over the street thugs of Liberty City. Niko protects Roman from loan sharks, and soon begins making money and contacts that can help him locate Florian within the city. His professional and personal relationships expand over the course of the game.
While working for Roman's taxi company and protecting him from loan sharks, Niko meets and befriends several Broker residents, includingYarde 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 Russian mobsters with Little Jacob's help. However, he and Roman later witness their apartment and taxi company being burned down by Dimitri's men.
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 homoesxual 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.
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.
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. At Roman's wedding, an assassin sent by Dimitri unintentionally kills Roman with a stray bullet. Aided by Little Jacob, a devastated and vengeful Niko kills Dimitri, who in turn killed Pegorino.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.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.Aided by Little Jacob and Roman, Niko kills Pegorino, who had been targeted by the Liberty City underworld.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.