|Developer(s): Rockstar North
Publisher(s): Rockstar Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s): 29 April 2008
Genre(s): Sandbox, action-adventure third-person shooter,
Mode(s): Single-player, online multiplayer
Grand Theft Auto IV follows the story of Niko Bellic, a veteran of an unnamed war in Eastern Europe, who is haunted by the betrayal of his army unit. Ten years later, after a smuggling run that goes bad, Niko leaves Eastern Europe to escape the anger of his employer, Ray Bulgarin. Eventually, under persuasion from his cousin Roman, Niko comes to Liberty City, to pursue the American Dream as well as Florian Cravic, the man he believes to be the traitor. After his arrival, however, Niko quickly learns that Roman’s tales of riches and luxury were lies concealing his struggles with gambling debts and loan sharks.
Niko defends Roman from his loan sharks several times, eventually killing Vlad Glebov, Roman’s Russian loan shark, for having sex with Roman’s girlfriend Mallorie Bardas. Niko also begins dating a girl named Michelle and befriends Jamaican drug and arms dealer “Little” Jacob Hughes and steroid junkie chop shop owner Bruce “Brucie” Kibbutz.
After Vlad’s murder, Niko and Roman are kidnapped by members of the Liberty City Bratva, on order of Mikhail Faustin and his associate, Dimitri Rascalov. However Faustin is not angry with Niko for killing Vlad, and instead hires him. Niko quickly learning that Faustin is a psychopath when Faustin orders him to kill the son of Kenny Petrović, the most powerful man in the Liberty City Bratva. Dimitri tries to negotiate an agreement, but Petrović demands revenge and Dimitri is forced to have Niko assassinate Faustin. However, when Niko meets with Dimitri to collect on the assassination, Dimitri betrays Niko to his angry former employer Ray Bulgarin. Niko manages to fight his way through the ambush but Dimitri and Bulgarin escape.
Immediately afterwards Niko and Roman are forced to escape to Bohan when their Hove Beach apartment and taxi company are destroyed in arson attacks by Dimitri’s men. To make ends meet while living in Bohan, Niko takes jobs for former gangbanger Manny Escuela, prominent drug dealer Elizabeta Torres, Irish mobster Patrick “Packie” McReary, and successful Algonquin drug dealer Trey “Playboy X” Stewart. Niko also becomes an errand boy for both Mafia Capo Ray Boccino and crooked Deputy Police Commissioner Francis McReary.
However, things go poorly in Bohan: one of the drug deals that Niko is working for Elizabeta turns out to be a sting and another is busted. Niko’s girlfriend Michelle then reveals that she works for a government agency and entraps Niko into working for Michelle’s agency, known only by its cover: United Liberty Paper. Niko kills several known or suspected terrorists for the agency in exchange for the promise of assistance in finding the man who betrayed Niko’s unit.
The Liberty City Police Department begin to close in on Elizabeta, who kills Manny Escuela when he attempt a citizen’s arrest. Elizabeta then has Niko sell their bodies to an organ-harvesting doctor. Soon afterwards Elizabeta is arrested and later sentenced to 300 years in prison. While Niko is working for Boccino and Playboy in Algonquin, Roman is kidnapped by Dimitri Rascalov’s men because he owes them money. Niko arrives at the warehouse where Roman is being kept and, in a rage, kills all the kidnappers. Roman decides Bohan is no longer safe, and decides to move to Algonquin.
Roman buys a penthouse in Algonquin with money he has won gambling and a new cab company with the insurance money from his destroyed cab company. Meanwhile Niko assists Ray Boccino in a conflict diamond deal with Jewish Mafia Capo and diamond dealer Isaac Roth, which goes badly and leads to the diamonds being stolen by Luis Lopez and the money being stolen by Johnny Klebitz. In retaliation Boccino sends Niko to kill Roth and Johnny’s friend Jim Fitzgerald.
In exchange for Niko’s help, Boccino locates Florian Cravic, the man who Niko has been searching for. But when Niko confronts Cravic he discovers that Florian has changed his name to Bernie Crane and become an effeminate homosexual. Niko immediately determines that Bernie is not the person responsible for his unit’s betrayal, leaving him one remaining suspect: Darko Brevic.
Niko also works for both Playboy X and Playboy’s old mentor Dwayne Forge, who has just been released from prison. After Niko kills Playboy’s business partners as a favour for Forge, the relationship between Playboy and Forge becomes so poisonous that each asks Niko to kill the other, leaving Niko a choice between the two. If Niko kills Playboy he does not get paid but receives Playboy’s loft and believes he made the right choice in sticking by his friend. If Niko kills Forge he is paid $25,000 but Playboy despises him as a cold-blooded hired gun and breaks off all contact with Niko.
While in Algonquin Niko also develops a strong connection with the McReary family, including Packie’s older brothers Gerald and Derrick, and their sister Kate, whom he begins hanging out with. Kate and Niko connect on many levels, and it is hinted that the two develop a love for each other after spending time together. Together Niko, Packie, and Derrick, along with “Saint” Michael Keane, heist the Bank of Liberty in Algonquin. However, the robbery doesn’t go smoothly; Michael is killed and the others are forced to shoot their way out past the police to escape. After the robbery Niko works with Gerry McReary to destroy the relationship between the Ancelotti Crime Family and their Albanian muscle-men.
Meanwhile Derrick spends most of his share on drugs and alcohol, and sends Niko to eliminate former partners he believes are informing on him. Soon Francis McReary becomes concerned that Derrick’s drug habits and behaviour could ruin his plans to become the new police commissioner, and tells Niko to kill Derrick. Soon after Derrick calls Niko, paranoid that Francis plans to have him killed, asking Niko to kill Francis first. This gives Niko a choice between the two. If Niko kills Francis McReary there are no positive effects except a thank you call from Derrick, whereas if Niko kills Derrick he becomes able call Francis and blackmail him into reducing Niko’s wanted level. In either case Niko is invited to the McReary funeral and informed that Gerry has been arrested. After the ceremony and again en route to the cemetery in the Hearse, Niko helps defend the mourners from attacks by the Albanians that Gerry and Niko angered.
After his incarceration, Gerry contacts Niko and asks him to help in the kidnapping of Gracie, the daughter of the Don of the Ancelloti Family, in exchange for a ransom of the conflict diamonds stolen by Luis Lopez during Ray Boccino’s deal with the Jewish Mafia. However after exchanging Grace to Gay Tony for the diamonds, Niko and Packie are surprised by Ray Bulgarin, who claims the diamonds are his. In the ensuing gunfight the diamonds are thrown into a passing dumptruck and lost.
Niko also does work for the Pegorinno family in Alderney, mainly with Associate Phil Bell, stealing “cursed” heroin, and later for Don Jimmy Pegorino who is trying to gain a seat on the Commission by weakening the other families. This leads to a war between the Pegorinos and the Pavano and Ancellotti Crime Families. Eventually, after working for Pegorino several times, Niko is sent to kill Ray Boccino because Pegorino is convinced Boccino is an informant.
Niko also takes several assignments from the dying mobster Jon Gravelli, whom he meets through his contact with the shadowy government agency United Liberty Paper.
Toward the end of the story, Niko’s United Liberty Paper contact locates Darko Brevic in Bucharest and arranges to have him brought to Liberty City as a final reward. Niko and Roman confront Darko, who has become a drug-addicted wreck, and they both learn that Darko betrayed the group for $1,000 dollars to support his drug habit. The player is then left with the option of either executing Darko or sparing his life. If Niko chooses to execute Darko, Roman will ask him if he feels better, and Niko will say that he feels empty. If Niko chooses to spare Darko he is at first angry but feels better later on. Neither choice has any lasting effect on the storyline, and having dealt with his past Niko is summoned by Pegorino, who demands of him one final favour: to help with an extremely lucrative deal on the “cursed” heroin in collusion with Dimitri Rascalov.
The story features two possible endings depending on the choice made by the player at this point in the game: to strike a Deal with Dimitri or exact Revenge on him. In both endings Niko sees Pegorino as an enemy for allying so closely with Dimitri, and both antagonists are killed. The major difference in each ending is that either Roman Bellic in Deal or Kate McReary in Revenge dies (they each advise Niko towards a different decision, and ironically, the one Niko takes advice from is the one to die).
If the player chooses to go through with the Deal, Niko meets Phil Bell at the docks to take the money from the buyers once Dimitri delivers the heroin to another location. However Dimitri does not deliver the heroin and Niko and Phil are forced to fight to escape, but retrieve the drug money regardless. Niko then receives a congratulatory call from Pegorino who has now allied himself with Dimitri. Kate McReary, however, who was against making the deal, is disappointed with Niko and refuses to attend Roman and Mallorie’s wedding. At the wedding an assassin sent by Dimitri tries to kill Niko, but kills Roman with a stray bullet as Niko disarms him. Niko then savagely murders the assassin. A devastated and vengeful Niko teams up with Little Jacob and together they follow some of Pegorino’s men to the abandoned casino in Alderney where Dimitri and Pegorino are hiding. Inside the casino, Dimitri betrays and kills Pegorino out of greed, before escaping to Happiness Island in a chopper. Niko chases Dimitri to Happiness Island, where they have a shoot-out under the shadow of the Statue of Happiness in which Niko mortally wounds Dimitri. As Dimitri is dying, Niko criticizes Dimitri’s traitorous nature. The story ends with a parting shot of the Statue of Happiness, with Niko concerned for the well-being of his soul. After the end credits, Mallorie reveals to Niko in a phone call that she is pregnant with Roman’s child, who Niko promises “will never have to worry about anything”. Kate also calls Niko and expresses her condolences for Niko’s loss.
If the player chooses to exact Revenge, Niko ambushes Dimitri on the cargo ship Platypus. After killing all of Dimitri’s men and running Dimitri out of ammunition, Niko shoots Dimitri in both legs forcing him to the floor and finishes him with a headshot. In the aftermath, Roman and Mallorie’s wedding takes place and Jimmy Pegorino, furious after Niko’s betrayal, commits a drive-by shooting outside the church killing Niko’s love interest, Kate McReary. However, now that Pegorino has lost his ally Dimitri and angered both Niko (and thereby his many friends) and the five mafia families, the entire underworld of Liberty City wants him dead and he goes into hiding. Niko, Roman and Little Jacob locate and follow some of Pegorino’s men, who lead them to the abandoned casino in Alderney. Niko attempts to kill Pegorino, but he escapes via boat to Happiness Island. Niko, Roman, and Jacob pursue to Happiness Island. Niko chases and corners Pegorino in the shadow of the Statue of Happiness. In a short gunfight Niko fatally wounds Pegorino. As Pegorino is dying Niko taunts him by telling him the Commission he worked so hard to join thought he was a “fat fucking joke”. When Niko’s back is turned, Pegorino raises his gun once more, but Niko snaps back and fires a single round into Pegorino’s forehead leaving him dead at the foot of the Statue of Happiness before lamenting on the supposed “American Dream” to Roman and Jacob. After the end credits, Roman reveals to Niko in a phone call that he and Mallorie are expecting a child and if it is a girl, they will name her Kate.