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Niko Bellic, an eastern European criminal, has taken the Platypus ship to exit the country (namely to avoid an old rival) and come to Liberty City, after hearing many stories of his cousin Roman Bellic being a rich man with women, cars, mansions and luxury. Sadly, he discovers in the game's first mission (The Cousins Bellic) that he lives in a heavily-cramped apartment and runs a small taxi service (the Express Car Service). After doing some more chores for Roman, he meets Michelle and Mallorie; who become Niko and Roman's girlfriends overtime. In the end, Niko ends up dating Michelle (First Date (GTA IV) before or after saving Roman from Bledar Morina, the head of the Albanian Mafia in Broker.
After doing a few more missions for Roman, he meets both Little Jacob and Vladimir Glebov. Both of them hire Niko to do work; LJ is working as the head of the Jamaican Mafia and needs Niko's help, while Vlad, a Russian, needs Niko to do debt-collecting jobs to keep his cousin from sinking into debt. Little Jacob introduces the first weapon in the game available to Niko (without going for spawn points or using cheats). Eventually, in Vlad's final mission, Niko must make the first choice in the game; shall he kill or spare Ivan? In the post-mission phone call, Vlad implicates that he is having an affair with Roman's girlfriend Mallorie.
Vlad is killed by Niko for having this affair; after killing him, Niko explains to Roman that as a child soldier, he was part of a Fifteen Man Squad of young boys in a village, but one of the 15 betrayed the other 14 and sent them to an ambush. Niko comments that he and only two others survived, and all this time, he came to Liberty City for another reason; to find the survivor and ask him why he did it. Either way, Roman is terrified at how is it nearly inevitable that revenge will be had on he and Niko for killing the Russian Mafia's debt collector. This fear proves correct when Roman and Niko are kidnapped by Mikhail Faustin and Dimitri Rascalov; the leaders of the Russian Mafia in Broker. During his mission string for Faustin, Niko is introduced to Brucie Kibbutz and the Internet in GTA IV. Also, Niko is hired to do work for Brucie. Dimitri Rascalov, on a mission for Faustin, introduces the gun shops that sell the Weapons in GTA IV to Niko. However, the cut-scenes for Faustin's mission show that he is an absolute hothead; he killed Andrei, a loyal agent of his own mafia who kidnapped Roman and Niko in the same scene that they were kidnapped. Unfortunately, Faustin goes too far when he orders Niko to first assassinate the son of the city's most powerful Russian, and then he goes way too far when he sends Niko on an extremely dangerous mission.
Niko later meets Dimitri Rascalov privately, and he explains to Niko that unless Niko Bellic kills Faustin, Kenny Petrovic will do everything in his plentiful-power to see Niko, Faustin and Rascalov dead. Out of options, Niko must kill Faustin (in a mission that introduces the Executions in the game). However, when Niko meets Dimitri at a warehouse to collect his money, Dimitri betrays Niko when he sells him out to Ray Bulgarin -- the same man Niko came to Liberty City to escape from. Then, Rascalov enrages the Bellics when he burns down both the taxi service and apartment of Roman.
After losing their apartment and strapped down on cash, Niko Bellic begins working for -- on reccomendation of Mallorie Bardas -- Manny Escuela and Elizabeta Torres. Niko quickly takes a personal disliking towards Escuela; but working for Torres, he meets Packie McReary (Luck of the Irish) and Playboy X (Blow Your Cover) -- two major characters in the game. After completing Blow Your Cover, Niko is given access to Algonquin. After Manny and Elizabeta's story's culminate in a plot twist that reveals a large secret of Michelle's, Niko begins to work for Playboy X, his friend Dwayne Forge, Francis McReary (whom he met through Manny Escuela and Packie McReary.
Playboy X hires Niko to first take down a union site for Yusuf Amir, then hires him to take down an enemy of his. Dwayne Forge hires Niko to help with problems from his past; Playboy X then proves his absolute callousness when he hires Bellic to murder Forge. However, Forge then orders Bellic to kill Playboy. Once again, who Niko decides to kill is left to the player's decision.
Francis McReary hires Niko to kill people who are snitching on him (Call and Collect, Final Interview, Holland Nights and Lure (GTA IV)); his brother, Packie McReary, goes through several robbery missions including a bank robbery (Harboring a Grudge, Waste Not Want Knots and Three Leaf Clover). Through McReary does Niko meet Ray Boccino and his brothers Derrick and Gerald McReary.
Ray Boccino offers an extensive string of missions that revolve around collecting Diamonds; due to the large amount of people Ray trusted (Johnny Klebitz, Luca Silvestri and Issac Roth for example) to get the operation done, he ended up losing them. Fortunately, before or after Ray's final mission, he is able to find Florian Cravic, one of the two possible people who betrayed Niko as a child soldier. Florian convinces Niko that he was not the one who betrayed the Fifteen Man Squad and that is was truly Darko Brevic.
After completing a certain amount of missions in Algonquin, Roman will disappear and Mallorie will later inform you that he is kidnapped. Although Niko is able to save him, this only skyrocket's his hatred for Dimitri Rascalov.
After Michelle's secret came out, Niko was coerced into working for the United Liberty Paper; who would later help him out with Brevic. After doing work for Gerald McReary (Actions Speak Louder than Words and I Need Your Clothes, Your Boots, and Your Motorcycle) and Derrick McReary (Smackdown (GTA IV), Babysitting and Tunnel of Death) Niko is left to choose who to kill; Francis or Derrick McReary.
After this all, Gerald McReary -- after being imprisoned -- concots a plan to get the Diamonds back; they will first kidnap a mob boss's daughter, safekeep her when she is discovered, then exchange her for the diamonds. Sadly, Niko and Packie's deal goes horribly wrong when Ray Bulgarin ambushes it.
After completing Ray's missions, Niko will begin to work for both Phil Bell and James Pegorino; in the end, Phil is able to seize a load of Heroin, and Pegorino ends up sending Niko to kill Ray Boccino in Pest Control.
Main article: Endings in GTA IV