GTA 6 Revival Blog Post: GTA IV: Niko Bellic enters the scene!

GTA 6 Revival Blog Post: GTA IV: Niko Bellic enters the scene!
Shaun M Jooste

Shaun M Jooste

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Welcome to our next GTA 6 revival blog, where we take a look at GTA IV, introducing Niko Bellic as our anti-hero protagonist. It was the first game in the series to move into the HD universe. If you’ve been following our series, you’ll know we covered the original top-down GTA games and then into the 3D space with GTA III and Vice City, followed by Stories.

When GTA IV entered the scene, it set the stage for high-definition gaming on new-generation consoles that led to GTA V and the upcoming GTA VI. Let’s head down memory lane to see everything included in the action-adventure game with Niko Bellic.

GTA IV: Moving into the HD Universe

Lots of work was put into GTA IV to move the franchise into the HD scene. Since Liberty City is based on New York, the development team took over 100,000 photos as well as hours of video to make the city look as realistic as possible. With a budget that went over US$100 million, it’s considered one of the most expensive games made.

It’s not just the graphics and gameplay that received an upgrade, but the entire game world. GTA IV presented four locations in Liberty City: Broker, Dukes, Bohan, and Algonquin. Each shop or building you could enter had to be designed to the finest detail. Even vehicle collisions looked spectacular, with external parts falling onto the ground before vanishing.

GTA 6 Revival blog Post GTA IV

Meet Niko Bellic

When you start playing GTA IV, you’re introduced to Niko Bellic entering Liberty City on a cargo ship. He’s from Eastern Europe and has some specialized skills from his veteran days as a soldier. During a war ten years before, someone had betrayed his unit during an ambush. Niko plans on finding him an exacting revenge.

The first partner you meet is Niko’s cousin, Roman. While his cuz shows him the city and introduces him to a few influential people, Niko does a few random jobs. However, things get to a head when he decides to kill a loan shark who has been messing around with Mallorie, Roman’s girlfriend. 

The Russian mob isn’t happy, so they decide to capture the cousins. Instead of killing them, crime boss Mikhail Faustin decides to hire Niko as a hitman instead. What happens are more attempts on mob lords and some fantastic chases and gunfights.

During all this chaos, Roman proposes to Mallorie, and Niko starts working for the Irish mob. Bank robberies become the highlight of the missions, but not everything goes as planned. It is after one of these jobs that he discovers that the guy he’s looking for is now called Bernie Crane. When he finds Crane, the ex-comrade tells him that someone else betrayed them.

The only other survivor of that ambush was Darko Brevic, so Niko concludes that he must have betrayed them. Now taking jobs from the Mafia, the Paper finally delivers Darko to Niko. But Don Jimmy Pegorino from the Mafia has one last mission for him. He needs to help close a drug deal with Dimitri.

There are two endings, depending on what you decide to do:

  • Let Dimitri go: if you decide not to kill him, Dimitri sends an assassin to Roman’s wedding, accidentally killing Niko’s cousin. You then hunt down and kill Dimitri anyway.
  • Kill Dimitri: Pegorino tries to shoot Niko at Roman’s wedding in revenge, killing Niko’s girlfriend Kate. You then hunt down and kill Pegorino.
GTA 6 Revival blog Post GTA IV

The Central Theme

There are two main themes in GTA IV, the first involving the overall world in the game. It concerns the American Dream and if it actually means anything anymore. You’ll constantly hear Niko complaining about the US’s capitalistic ways, how only the rich prosper while everyone else tends to fight for survival. 

The other theme involves the main character. You’ll learn that every action Nike did in his past and during the game has consequences. They’re constantly haunting him or hunting him down, even things that happened a decade ago. Even the final ending is the epitome of this theme.

Types of Characters

While there are so many side characters in GTA IV, Niko actually classifies them based on their personality types instead of which mafia or group they belong to. The first group is called The Optimists, as they are constantly trying to get Niko to see the brighter side of life. These names include Roman Bellic, Mallorie Bardas, Little Jacob, Brucie Kibbutz, Bernie Crane, and Kate McReary.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have The Pessimists. These are the characters that Niko has an easier time developing friendships with, as they share the same dislike for American ideals and generally the everyday way of life. These names include Patrick McReary, Jon Gravelli, Gerald McReary, Dwayne Forge, Derrick McReary,  and Phil Bell.

Then, you have The Corrupt. While Niko may work for them, that doesn’t mean he likes them. As a matter of fact, he kills most of them due to their false sense of immortality and high vice of greed. The characters that fall into this group are Vladimir Glebov, Jimmy Pegorino, United Liberty Paper Dimitri Rascalov, Ray Bulgarin, Mikhail Faustin, Francis McReary, Elizabeta Torres, Playboy X, Manny Escuela, Darko Brevic, and Ray Boccino.

Finally, you have The Girlfriends, a small list of characters that you can date. You need to take them to dinner or play table games with them, whatever it is they like and want to do for fun. Eventually, you can max out the relationship and enter their home for some ‘hot chocolate.’ These names are Michelle, Carmen Ortiz, Kate McReary, Alex Chilton, and Kiki Jenkins. 

GTA 6 Revival blog Post GTA IV

GTA Gameplay elements and modes

As with the previous titles in the franchise, GTA IV presents a third-person perspective but with improved definition and graphics. The main missions are linear, which means you may need to complete side missions before receiving a call for the story to continue. Also, you start in the Broker and Dukes regions, unlocking the other islands as you proceed.

Let’s talk about combat for a moment. You have the choice of melee or ranged weapons, with even your fists as an option. There’s the usual Ammu-Nation store where you can buy weapons and armor. Should you receive damage, you’ll need to eat or sleep to restore your health. When you’re in vehicle combat, you have the option of first-person mode to have a better chance at shooting your enemies.

GTA IV also has a fantastic cover system. When you are able to hide from gunfire, you press a single button to duck or stand behind the cover. From there, you can peek out to fire at enemies, even specific body parts.

Another return to the series has to do with the vehicles. You can steal most cars, bikes, planes, or boats in the game. If you have cops hunting you down with wanted levels, you can quickly jump into a spray booth, change the body color and plates, and emerge with no stars. Some vehicles also have basic customization options, but not as many as in GTA V.

The GTA series finally had a functional online mode that players could enjoy. GTA IV Online let you create a character and roam around the world competing with other gamers. There were team and solo modes with different scenarios, where you earned money and leveled up. 

GTA 6 Revival blog Post GTA IV

Expansion Packs

I won’t go into too much detail about these expansion packs, but both The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are worth mentioning. They had new protagonists, but each pack was still connected somehow to the main story in GTA IV. It helped keep us Grand Theft Auto gamers happy until we finally received the sequel, GTA V.

GTA 6 Revival blog Post GTA IV

Overwhelming positive response from critics

When GTA IV launched in 2008, it received an outstanding positive response from the gaming community. Most critics provided nearly perfect scores for all elements, with gamers praising the graphics, gameplay, and new online mode. Sadly, there was still controversy over the violence, drugs, sex, and other mature elements depicted in the game. Yet, that didn’t stop Rockstar from continuing with the franchise.

Rising expectations for GTA 6

Thanks to GTA IV and V, we have some rather high expectations for GTA 6. We’re wanting bigger cities, more chaos and mayhem, more vehicles and weapons, and new gameplay elements. Here’s hoping that Rockstar Games can deliver.

Shaun M Jooste

Shaun M Jooste

I live in South Africa, Cape town, as a father of two children. I've been gaming almost all my life, with plenty of experience writing reviews and articles on the latest titles. With 15 years of experience in local government performing Facilities Management functions, I moved towards becoming CEO of my own company, Celenic Earth Publications, which serves to publish author's books, including my own. I'm a published author of horror and fantasy novels, while I also dabble in game and movie scriptwriting.

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