Niko Bellic (Niko Belić) is a fictional Eastern European expatriate who comes to the United States
in the opening sequence of the video game Grand Theft Auto IV
: Liberty City
. He is the main character (the player's avatar
) in the game itself. He is scarred both physically and emotionally from a number of causes, including an abusive alcoholic father and his service as a child soldier in the Yugoslav Wars
of 1991-1995. Arriving by freighter in the titular Liberty City he is met by his cousin Roman Bellic, who has been in the U.S. for a decade, and immediately begins making his way into and up the criminal underworld of his new home. In addition to starring in GTA IV, Niko also appears (as a secondary character or in cameo
s) in both of the DLC expansion games for GTA IV- The Lost and the Damned
and The Ballad of Gay Tony
Mild spoilers for GTA IV follow!
Family, Friends and History
Milica Bellic, Niko's mother, is still alive; she emails him at several points during the game timeframe. His cousin Roman Bellic meets him at the boat. He had an older brother who, we are told, was killed in the Yugoslav Wars; this, along with strong nationalist sentiment, motivated a fifteen-year-old Niko to join the army - although precisely which army is never disclosed. We are not, in fact, entirely certain of his nationality, and various characters refer to him as a Serb, Polack, and Russian during the game. Although he 'speaks' Serbian at several points, it is reported that these phrases are badly accented and often flatly incorrect (his voice actor was American).
His childhood friends are all dead, with two exceptions. The children of his village joined the army as a unit, and the fifteen of them were ambushed. Niko survived the ambush, and afterwards returned to find all the others dead save two - Florian Crevic and Darko Brevic. He becomes convinced that one of the two betrayed the group, and he is hunting both of them to determine which and kill him.
After the war, Niko becomes involved with various criminal organizations. He ends up working to smuggle people across the Adriatic Sea; the boat he is on is sunk and he is forced to swim for his life. The boss for whom he was working, Radislav Bulgarin, feels that Niko owes him for his lost investment, and Niko goes on the run, ending up spending several months working aboard the freighter which brings him to the United States.
Once in Liberty City, Niko becomes involved with a number of other people. He dates Michelle, a friend of his cousin's girlfriend Mallorie. He is introduced to various criminal types for whom he begins to work, some of whom he becomes friendly with on the side. His friendships will lead him (and you) to make choices during the game which will affect the story.
Niko is of average build. His facial features are reportedly based on a character from the 2001 movie Behind Enemy Lines; his voice was provided by voice actor Michael Hollick. Unlike previous Grand Theft Auto protagonists, Niko has had military training; he is an accurate shot (if played thus) and in good physical shape, able to run, swim or climb for long periods before becoming winded. Although his life is awash in substances, he avoids drugs and only accepts alcohol once or twice during the game's story, turning down numerous other offers. When he arrives in Liberty City, he is 30 years old.
His experiences have led most visibly to a dark cynicism about the world. He is sarcastic and impatient with anyone who comes across as entitled, and although wistfully approving of optimists, he certainly isn't one himself. Death and destruction obviously come easily to him, given that he is the player avatar of a sandbox death and destruction simulator, but via in-game dialogue we learn that the character feels that his experiences have left him scant regard for human life or rights.
Despite all this, he does try to help others. The game offers the opportunity to play a (somewhat) twisted helping hand to various characters in need of assistance. Niko is supportive and protective of his family and his friends. Although firmly heterosexual, Niko is quite tolerant of and supportive of those leading homosexual lifestyles - unless they're hypocritical about it. He isn't terribly interested in material possessions, and comments acerbically on the greed rampant in Liberty City and its version of American culture.
Niko has shown up on a few 'top xxx' lists of videogame characters in the years since the game's release.