I'm late to the party, but wow, Niko Bellic is a bad character

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#1 Posted by ztiworoh (731 posts) -

I picked up GTA IV and the episodes for $12 a couple weeks back, and I'm enjoying the game for what it is - though after playing Red Dead Redemption, I'm having a really hard time connecting with the story (and the lack of mission checkpoints).

So, I'm to believe that Niko came to the US to escape his life of violence, and then just volunteers to murder people for money right away? I understand a revenge plot and all, but he seems to wantonly kill for the smallest of side characters, to whom he owes nothing. And then, he laments the fact that he can't escape his criminal past?

Also, what is it with Rockstar being unable to program games with characters that don't control like they're a god damn cargo ship? Seriously, it feels like I have to walk around the damn block just to turn around half the time.

#2 Posted by ReyGitano (2467 posts) -

Outside of the fact that Niko decides to go through with more killing after coming to America, I really liked that character. I chop up his continuing to kill people up to him doing the only thing he knows how to do, carrying old habits into a new world.

#3 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

If Niko didn't kill anyone, GTA IV would be a dating simulator.

#4 Posted by RE_Player1 (7526 posts) -

I hated GTA4. Couldn't sell that game faster. After years of buy GTA games based on the hype I have come to realize I'm not a fan of Rockstar's games. I understand they are quality games they just aren't my style.

#5 Posted by ztiworoh (731 posts) -

@Claude: But I think they could have come up with a more compelling character arc - maybe have him come over here with the intent of getting into organized crime, have him face the demons of his past, and then have to fight his way out.

Instead, he's a schizophrenic character who goes from nearly crying about the things hes seen and done in one cut scene and then volunteering to shoot up a strip club in the next for a guy he barely knows.

#6 Posted by McGhee (6075 posts) -

That's the whole point of the story. He thinks he can change, but quickly goes back to his old ways. It's the idea that "wherever you go, there you are." Just moving to a different place will not change you. You are just running away from your problems until you decided to truly confront them by confronting yourself.

#7 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

@ztiworoh: I didn't like the game or the characters. I did like the city and driving. Rockstar redeemed themselves with Red Dead Redemption. That's my feeling on the subject.

#8 Posted by ShaggE (6727 posts) -

MAHNEY.  
 
I *love* GTAIV, and Niko's a likable l'il psycho, but I agree that having him get all remorseful right before killing five dozen dudes for a bit of pocket MAHNEY is hard to swallow. Not in the comedic way, either, just in the "something's broken here" way.

#9 Edited by shivermetimbers (796 posts) -

He's the kind of guy who hates what he's doing, but does it anyway. If he can undo one mistake, it would satisfy him, even if he has to make several more in the process.  I like how his character is written, it's one of the few highlights of the game.
 
 
I agree that the gameplay is shitty and the lack of checkpoints makes it frustrating. The gameplay also doesn't complement the character well because you can make him out to be a sociopath, but hey...video games...

#10 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

That's the problem that the GTA series really has. The moment you try to make the character anything more sympathetic than a narcissistic, homicidal sociopath, a disconnect between the story and the in-game actions develops. It was the same thing in Vice City Stories.

#11 Posted by Manhattan_Project (2178 posts) -

He wants to change but WTF is he supposed to do when the only thing he knows how to do is kill?

#12 Posted by HandsomeDead (11863 posts) -
@McGhee_the_Insomniac said:

That's the whole point of the story. He thinks he can change, but quickly goes back to his old ways. It's the idea that "wherever you go, there you are." Just moving to a different place will not change you. You are just running away from your problems until you decided to truly confront them by confronting yourself.

That's what I thought too. Admittedly, it's done poorly but in terms of video game writing, it's probably one of the better examples.
#13 Posted by Animasta (14730 posts) -

It's not really, it's just about him being a complete fucking pushover, like ALL of rockstar's characters.

#14 Posted by SomeDeliCook (2341 posts) -

People had the same problem with Mafia 2. You had this guy just trying to make it in the world who would only fight other mobsters or bad people in general, yet you could just go on a huge killing spree slaughtering as many cops and civilians as you want. You weren't suppose to, it was never a requirement to do so (heck, I didn't even do it in the first place) but the option was always there. Yet he still believed he was a good person.

Online
#15 Posted by Irvandus (2900 posts) -

His motives really don't make a tone of sense and... well yeah.

#16 Posted by desolation15 (113 posts) -

Would be a fun challenge to go thru the entire game with the least amount of kills. But that would mean I'll have to play the game again. I barely finished L&D dlc.

#17 Posted by TwilitEnd656 (617 posts) -

@Claude said:

If Niko didn't kill anyone, GTA IV would be a dating simulator.

And a rather poor one at that, amirite?

But, yeah, it's a problem GTA has over several games. Kind of hard to paint a solid picture of the character when the story and gameplay don't always mix... In all the wrong ways.

#18 Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG (4284 posts) -
when i beat the game, i just hated it because i wanted the game to last longer.  i got past that and i realized it had a good message.  i think when he kills, he does it strictly for business and he also needs money.  i guess the thing thats stopping him from feeling remorse is that hes in a different environment and hes too distracted by the thoughts of his past. 
 
@desolation15: i thought the Ballad of Gay Tony dlc was fun.  it really connected the whole diamond plot for me 
#19 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4702 posts) -

Despite Niko being a bit contradictory I found him highly likeable.

#20 Posted by desolation15 (113 posts) -
@the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG: I'm sure it is, I watched the dick cut scene. I was just so burnt out of the gameplay and the character move like they're wading in water. And the way that they jump... ugh... so... realistic.
 
I'll put that game in the way back burner. Maybe some raining day when I have nothing better to do.
#21 Posted by HandsomeDead (11863 posts) -
@ImmortalSaiyan said:
Despite Niko being a bit contradictory I found him highly likeable.
Same with John Marston. If Rockstar could find a way for their protagonists to get through the story without having to kill everyone for no real reason, they could really be making some real crossover hits.
#22 Posted by DarkGamerOO7 (574 posts) -

I loved Niko in Grand Theft Auto 4, sadly the save system and awful controls make the game a pain to play at times.

#23 Edited by CL60 (16906 posts) -

Niko is one of the better GTA characters...at least he has a personality. All of the other ones like CJ are boring to me. "Yo, I was in jail but now I'm not! I wanna rule this area now and become rich with mah homies!!" With Niko he tries to escape his past, but can't and in the process still doesn't get unfathomably rich. Rockstar seem to be getting better at writing characters that are actually realistic with Marston and Niko.

#24 Posted by Klaimore (940 posts) -

I liked his personality and he was funny too. The best part of the game is when you meet Dwayne that was a part that hit me hard.

#25 Posted by RockAction (373 posts) -

 
I thought he was a good character, well acted and fun to play as, and the point of the game is that you can't escape your past, hence the killing as soon as he got there, and its also a commentary on america, seen to be the great hope / american dream etc and being the same as where he came from - its about people i guess, which is probably what makes it as good as it is and as popular or approachable as it is 
 
i did not like john marston, his story made even less sense, i could believe a similar "can't escape your past" motive if he didn't vehemently deny he'd changed, despite most of the game being help strangers kill people for no important information you need urgently 
 
la noire takes the notion a bit further, where red dead should have gone in that you can't just wantonly kill everyone and you have to be a good guy to the point where the game will not let you take out your gun or even drive over pedestrians, even when you try or accidentally clip them only to have them make herculean frog splash jumps out of the way 
 
i don't know if i like cole phelps (LAN) either, i'm almost finished and i don't think i've been given the chance to like him as much as the others, because the game takes strange twists, i wont spoil anything, but twists that don't seem of his character and they would have made a cool mass effect like choice except you can't make them so i left feeling indifferent about him because i didn't make the choice and it came out of nowhere 
 
so i think Niko is the character i've connected with most and think is the most well rounded of the three main protagonists of recent Rockstar games 

#26 Posted by jorbear (2517 posts) -

@McGhee_the_Insomniac said:

That's the whole point of the story. He thinks he can change, but quickly goes back to his old ways. It's the idea that "wherever you go, there you are." Just moving to a different place will not change you. You are just running away from your problems until you decided to truly confront them by confronting yourself.

QFT

#27 Posted by CornBREDX (6080 posts) -

It's really hard, actually, to write a story around a bad guy and make him someone you can relate to. Sin City did it fairly well, and in some ways I felt Payback was a good example of it done it fairly well.

GTA has always struggled with that. At first it was basically just an arcade game. You get plopped right in, no real characterization; just take these missions and do it. You're a bad guy, it doesn't matter what happens- do what you have to to complete the mission. As time has gone on they had to characterize the person you're playing and from a writing stand point they never quite hit it right on. To make the character likable they have always gone with "I don't want to do it but I don't know anything else" or "It's part of my life, I can't escape it" and sometimes even ripping off gangster movies (Case in point GTA:SA which is remarkably like Boyz n the hood) for the characterization.

I would say it's as easy as picking the characters motivations to start- even bad guys think they're doing something that is right and you can find something in that that anyone can relate to, but putting it on paper is really hard to do and make it cohesive. Even more so to put it to interactive storytelling makes it a pretty difficult task.

I think that's why they changed direction lately... maybe. When they do anti-hero's (RDR) and full on good guys (LA Noire) the writing seems much better and makes more sense. To me anyway. I know the development teams are different, but rockstar had their hand at least a little in each so my point still stands.

Just my thoughts on it. I haven't played GTA 4 but I played all of them up to it and I have felt that way for awhile. GTA 4 was just the one where it seemed to be most obvious to everyone all of a sudden since it wasn't novel anymore I guess.

#28 Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG (4284 posts) -
@desolation15: will an AA12 with 400 explosive rounds compel you?
#29 Posted by Nottle (1915 posts) -

I think Niko is actually a really good character. He came to America wanting change but his old ways come back to haunt him. I decided not to play as a complete ass hole so when Niko has to kill someone the first time during the story he resented his actions and said something like "I thought things would be different here."  Killing people at random is something you decided to do and is just a dumb video game contrivance. 

#30 Posted by Animasta (14730 posts) -

@CL60 said:

Niko is one of the better GTA characters...at least he has a personality. All of the other ones like CJ are boring to me. "Yo, I was in jail but now I'm not! I wanna rule this area now and become rich with mah homies!!" With Niko he tries to escape his past, but can't and in the process still doesn't get unfathomably rich. Rockstar seem to be getting better at writing characters that are actually realistic with Marston and Niko.

CJ was never in jail? did you even play SA? CJ came back to los santos to avenge his moms and then later, to get sweet out of prison. CJ is probably their best main character besides Jimmy from Bully, but

#31 Posted by cnlmullen (895 posts) -

Niko was kind of cliche and forgettable, but I basically liked him. I felt like there was a lot more depth to Johnny Klebitz in Lost and Damned.

#32 Posted by Vinny_Says (5721 posts) -

There's an achievement in Deus Ex for playing the whole game without killing anyone, go play that. 
 
 
but yeah, after playing RDR Niko is nothing compared to John Marston

#33 Edited by Slaker117 (4843 posts) -
@cnlmullen said:

Niko was kind of cliche and forgettable, but I basically liked him. I felt like there was a lot more depth to Johnny Klebitz in Lost and Damned.

Yeah, I really liked Johnny are the whole LaD story. It's more memorable to me than the main game.
Online
#34 Posted by falling_fast (2285 posts) -

I think Nico Bellic is a great character.

#35 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -
@Laketown said:

@CL60 said:

Niko is one of the better GTA characters...at least he has a personality. All of the other ones like CJ are boring to me. "Yo, I was in jail but now I'm not! I wanna rule this area now and become rich with mah homies!!" With Niko he tries to escape his past, but can't and in the process still doesn't get unfathomably rich. Rockstar seem to be getting better at writing characters that are actually realistic with Marston and Niko.

CJ was never in jail? did you even play SA? CJ came back to los santos to avenge his moms and then later, to get sweet out of prison. CJ is probably their best main character besides Jimmy from Bully, but

Okay? The last time I played SA was in 2004, don't get yourself too stressed out about a slight error. My point still stands.  
  
Niko and Marston are by far better characters then the vast majority of Rockstars boring characters.
#36 Posted by SgtGrumbles (1024 posts) -

@McGhee_the_Insomniac said:

That's the whole point of the story. He thinks he can change, but quickly goes back to his old ways. It's the idea that "wherever you go, there you are." Just moving to a different place will not change you. You are just running away from your problems until you decided to truly confront them by confronting yourself.

I agree and thought it was pretty clear.

#37 Edited by NTM (7549 posts) -

I guess I agree. I definitely agree on the checkpoints aspect of GTA. Though I hear it's changed in the episodes (that I haven't played). The thing about Niko though, is that he doesn't like killing, and he wants it to change, and feels that it will change. If I remember correctly, he says at one point "We can't do this forever.",  talking to his cousin. So it's kind of ironic how it's basically all he does throughout the game, but there is a part of his character that hates all the killing. He's an immigrant, and I guess getting money by killing people is the best way he thinks he can get through. While I think the GTA games are amazing, I also think Red Dead Redemption perfected the GTA formula, or at least comes very close to it.

#38 Edited by TwoOneFive (9459 posts) -

i still say its one of the most overrated games in history.  It was boring, the driving was boring, the missions were mostly boring with no checkpoints, and the characters were annoying (friends calling you every five minutes to go to the strip club or to go play a shitty bowling sim... come on son). 
 
and i still cringe at just the thought of hearing Gerstman explaining his reasons for liking it in the podcasts... it was fucking ridiculous. something along the lines of : it makes you make tough decisions that ive had to make in real life and it moved me... if you dont like this game than you dont like videogames.. etc. uck. i love jeff, but that day, i hated jeff. 

#39 Posted by AndrewB (7691 posts) -
@SlashseveN303 said:

Outside of the fact that Niko decides to go through with more killing after coming to America, I really liked that character. I chop up his continuing to kill people up to him doing the only thing he knows how to do, carrying old habits into a new world.

That's exactly how I felt about it. Besides that, you can technically massacre complete innocents on the sidewalks. One of the reasons I'd rather the game have been more like L.A. Noire in that regard. At least for the single player story campaign. It never bothered me though because that's just not the way I played the game. I stick by my original opinion of the game (that it's brilliant), but maybe that's just because I haven't played it in so long.
#40 Posted by FritzDude (2273 posts) -

"Screw this crap!" 
 

#41 Posted by natetodamax (19220 posts) -

He's just a victim of the type of game, really. Rockstar tried to inject some real character into him, and for the most part I think they succeeded. But there is sort of a noticeable disconnect when he talks about all the awful things he's seen and done and then goes out to murder a bunch of people because some jerk boss told him to.

#42 Posted by tooPrime (345 posts) -
@ztiworoh said:

I picked up GTA IV and the episodes for $12 a couple weeks back, and I'm enjoying the game for what it is - though after playing Red Dead Redemption, I'm having a really hard time connecting with the story (and the lack of mission checkpoints).

So, I'm to believe that Niko came to the US to escape his life of violence, and then just volunteers to murder people for money right away? I understand a revenge plot and all, but he seems to wantonly kill for the smallest of side characters, to whom he owes nothing. And then, he laments the fact that he can't escape his criminal past?

Also, what is it with Rockstar being unable to program games with characters that don't control like they're a god damn cargo ship? Seriously, it feels like I have to walk around the damn block just to turn around half the time.

I just want to respond to this with "I know right?!?!?"   Nico not being sympathetic at all really kills the story especially how they try and play up that some how he was forced into this kind of life when he is clearly not.
#43 Posted by BrainSpecialist (554 posts) -
@ztiworoh: He didn't come to America to escape violence, he came to America to find the people who betrayed him.
#44 Edited by Ghostiet (5345 posts) -
@HandsomeDead said:

@McGhee_the_Insomniac said:

That's the whole point of the story. He thinks he can change, but quickly goes back to his old ways. It's the idea that "wherever you go, there you are." Just moving to a different place will not change you. You are just running away from your problems until you decided to truly confront them by confronting yourself.

That's what I thought too. Admittedly, it's done poorly but in terms of video game writing, it's probably one of the better examples.

GTA4 lands too heavy in gameplay and story segregation for this to be meaningful. Half of the plot is about getting cash, so you can pay off Roman's debts and live the high life, only you should have boatloads of cash right after you get to Bohan. It's weird, because Vice City and San Andreas managed to sideline that issue by making Vercetti just taking the drug empire for himself and focusing on cleaning Los Santos, respectively.

And the revenge part of the plot also doesn't work, because choosing the Deal ending makes no fucking sense with the way Niko developed throughout the game. That's what probably bugged me the most, because the game doesn't really give the vaguest explanation why would Niko want to ignore his rules to do that job.


It's a weird regression, because previous GTA's gave acceptable enough explanations to why you would play a heroic sociopath and have it make sense story-wise. The latter-released RDR is also better in this regard, since Marston has motivation that pretty much sidelines morality dilemmas, explaining a bit his actions in Mexico (even though the gameplayish morality system is unnecessary). It's still flimsy, but not as striking as in GTA4.

#45 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

@HandsomeDead said:

@McGhee_the_Insomniac said:

That's the whole point of the story. He thinks he can change, but quickly goes back to his old ways. It's the idea that "wherever you go, there you are." Just moving to a different place will not change you. You are just running away from your problems until you decided to truly confront them by confronting yourself.

That's what I thought too. Admittedly, it's done poorly but in terms of video game writing, it's probably one of the better examples.

I see it another way - GTA IV is a tragedy in the Ancient Greek sense. That's the whole point of Brevic Assassination choice and the choice to work with Rascalov after that - if you choose either of the positive choices - you're still left with negative outcomes. Nico is essentially a very poorly written tragic protagonist.

#46 Edited by Seppli (10250 posts) -

Love GTA IV. Whatever type of 'story and character building cohesion' you expect is outlandish for a videogame, where entertainment comes from your interaction with the gameworld through the character.
 
Just roleplay Nico better then. Only kill when you need to in order to progress the story. And only when it's a contextual or mechanical inevitability. Otherwise run like every criminal would.
 
Oh - it's not like every second dude coming to the big city for a better life ends up with a worse life than he started out with. The gods piss on best laid plans. Or wipe their collecitve arses with it. That's what the plans of mortals are made for after all. DUH!

#47 Edited by atomic_dumpling (2483 posts) -

It's friggin' GTA. They can talk up morality issues all they want, but in the end we are playing these games because we want to give morality the finger.

#48 Posted by Juno500 (481 posts) -
@ztiworoh said:

@Claude: But I think they could have come up with a more compelling character arc - maybe have him come over here with the intent of getting into organized crime, have him face the demons of his past, and then have to fight his way out.

Instead, he's a schizophrenic character who goes from nearly crying about the things hes seen and done in one cut scene and then volunteering to shoot up a strip club in the next for a guy he barely knows.

I don't think you know what "schizophrenic" means.
#49 Posted by purpleinsect (57 posts) -

Well he is my least favorite GTA character. I'm not a shallow person, but I want my main game character to be good looking :D And he just was somewhat annoying. I hope the next character will be more pleasant

#50 Posted by oatz (1090 posts) -
@ImmortalSaiyan said:
Despite Niko being a bit contradictory I found him highly likeable.
Exactly this. Could not have worded it better.

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