Credit to Narcis_Speed6 and Akavari112, Rolly, EdwardKoeleJuck, and Money Over Bullsh*t for the graphics. Credit to Tyla for continued support and inspiration.
Balkan Valor is the 3rd episodic expansion pack to Grand Theft Auto IV. Balkan Valor takes you in to the grittiest parts of the Albanian mafia, with an emphasis on stealth, seafaring, and their infamous Albanian brutality. The story explores the lives of the Pecinovsky organization, the weaker of two Albanian mafia families. Learning from the mistakes of the Italians who ruled the city before them, Liberty's Albanian families may finally have a shot at the top. But as you will learn, for every 100 rules of the mob, ninety-nine are broken, and the family who supports your rise to the top is anything but functional. Balkan Valor is a deeply psychological story that is as much coming of age story than a mob tale - though the violence is still intact, taken to the extreme. This is a DLC concept, though some liberties are taken for the purpose of creative writing. The storyline is rich, psychological, with symbolism throughout. Speaking of which, read on.
- The new overthrows the old. For the elder characters, their time is nearly come, and subconsciously they know it. To quote Michael Corleone, "it's natural." The cycle persists, for young people of the earth will always be naive enough to take orders from gangsters, and with their youthful strength, make successful plays for power, faithful in their cause, but unsure what lies ahead of them.
- Obsessive Loyalty. In Balkan Valor, the Albanians have managed to match some Italian families in strength through sheer loyalty. Gone are the days where the boss sleeps with one eye open, for through his complicated recruitment rituals, he earns the undying loyalty of his men. On a deeper level, this is what drives Besmir's character. He has a bit of loyalty to his family and his Family. But undying loyalty to his friends, for he has suffered in unique ways, and a true friend never does you any harm. In Balkan Valor, allegiances twist and turn, but everyone has one true, real allegiance, which you will see eventually. Often once it is too late.
- Premonition. Does nobody know anything? No. Everybody knows something, and criminals would do well for themselves heeding others warnings. Whether it be through dream, dialogue, bodily language, or even through someone you think unreliable. It's wise to take anyone's advice. If only criminals could lower themselves enough not to scoff at the average man's suggestion.
- Tragedy. You should expect this from any IV era game. Balkan Valor contains comedy, but at its core it's classic tragedy. Most of the examples revolve around Kaltrina. For instance, when Kaltrina manipulates her son Besmir in to using excessive violence, the fear he strikes in to those around him causes his best friends and loyal crew members to go in to hiding or defect to the Italians. His friends, the only people he genuinely cares for. The primary tragedy comes at the end, where Besmir's best friend attempts suicide before cooperating with the FBI.
- Self-Destruction. Self-destruction is the reason that Besmir's appearance will go from healthy 28 year old, to that of a weathered looking man with spots of gray hair and a more pale face - self destruction. In addition to the self destruction of the protagonist, we will also witness it in various gangs. Sihwa Money causes the near self destruction of the Korean Mob, The Pegorino Family self destructs, as does the entire Russian Mob. If history has taught us anything, it's the end to every gang war. Too bad the gangs never realize that.
Q: What should I read first?
A: Characters, which I consider the strong point of the concept. Then music, please!
Q: Why are there uncomfortable sexual overtones between the protagonist and his mother?
A: It's a basic demonstration of her absolute control over him, as well as a writing device to keep the next part of the story hidden! Although, Besmir's mother is the Roman or Tony of the story, so please let me know if you find any faults with her!
Q: Why is Mr. Ancelotti still yet to make an appearance?
A: The way I viewed him in the IV era was almost as a device for characters to pursue their goals. They could evoke his name as a way to push other character's around, when really you're never sure if he even has knowledge of what the characters are trying to do.
Q: Can you edit something in?
A: Sure, I'm open to any suggestions, anything at all to better this concept.
Q: How much research have you done?
A: A lot! The hierarchy of the Albanian families, their businesses, drug routes, territory, is as realistic as everything else in IV. I'm not going to shove information down your throat, though. If you pay attention you'll understand how the Albanian mob works as compared to the Italian one, why they operate where they do, their code of ethics. But it's not going to be stamped in the dialogue, just try to read between the lines or ask me if you want to know.
|The 28 year old protagonist of Balkan Valor. Besmir is a new-school gangster, treading deeper in to the seedy Libery underworld on a day by day basis. Introverted, erratic, and a psychological mess, Besmir is a reluctant piece of the Pecinovsky empire. Balkan Valor is as much a coming-of-age story to Besmir than anything, as we see a man who could have been anything he desired thrust in to an undesirable reality, the Liberty immigrant hustle. Besmir, as he views himself, is a living example of nurture gone wrong, having been born in to a brutal regime of killers and sociopaths. For Besmir, crime is not a past-time, hobby, or part time job, it's a burden that keeps Kaltrina going, and the maniacs appeased.|
Dangerously ambitious, Besmir fills the traditional role of the rebellious son, partially rejecting criminal teachings because he resents being brought up in such a tragic environment. Instead, Besmir is quick to stick to all that has ever been good to him, becoming more and more attached to his mother, and bending over backwards to help his friends, even non-Albanians. Besmir's story is psychological and coded. Driven in his criminal actions not by what he says outright, but what he feels subconsciously. A complex human being.
| ||49 year old mother to Besmir. Married Preston Pecinovsky after the death of her first husband, Besmir's real father. Stepmother to Driton. Kaltrina is a the matriarch of the Pecinovsky organization as well as a textbook sociopath who embraces high society life. Kaltrina is manipulative, controlling, and alluring to all the men she surrounds herself with. She experiences the story of Balkan Valor right alongside Besmir, although arguably, she is exempt from the emotional pain. Machiavellian and feeling no remorse, her only loyalty is to old school Albanian values, and as the story makes apparent, little else.|
Unlike the men of the storyline, Kaltrina is able to realize that a rank or title is worth nothing, all that matters is the influence you hold. This puts her a step ahead of the other characters at nearly all times. From Besmir's point of view, she herself is a reason to live. She must be protected from harm, and her wishes must be fulfilled. However, her questionable ethics and mysterious motives leave her extremely deadly to any characters that oppose her, and any characters that stand in the way of her [mostly unkown] motives. To the men of the storyline, Kaltrina represents what makes the Liberty itself so damn appealing - like the American dream, you cannot touch it, you will always desire it, and it is cruel and seems to be laughing at you.
| The youngest, and likely the more sensible of Liberty's two Albanian bosses, Preston still holds strong to the criminal values of old. Although a fairly recent mob boss, Preston has the respect of all his underlings, and has successfully avoided getting killed through shrewd diplomacy. A health care fraudster, Preston is the epitome of a successful modern gangster: sticking strong to diplomacy and traditional criminal values, while remaining unafraid of jailtime, progression, other mafia families, and even death. He has birthed two top-earning gangsters, and married a woman of everyone's dreams. He has it all, and Liberty City admires him for the peaceful approach that brought him his riches. |
Preston is a beacon of hope for the nearly-failing Liberty underworld. Preston knows how to spread the wealth around and keep his equals and Russian and sometimes Italian superiors content. All the city can do is hope that he lasts. Preston commands a large organization based out of Boulevard, Little Bay, and eventually Steinway. His lieutenants? The volatile Dardan Petrela, and the questionably placed Driton Pecinovsky. All he can hope for is they understand a concept he instills in them: loyalty. Preston has been known to sell healthcare at reduced prices to people of his neighborhood out of kindness, and in turn they love him for it, acting as lookouts for all the thieves under his domain. It is this, along with occasional preaching and community organizing that has seen him labeled as a, "social leader", a title which carries no stigma.
|Much like Dardan Petrela runs the Petrela gang, this heir apparent of the Pecinovsky Organization runs a street gang under Pecinovsky control. However, Driton has done all but earn his position, lacking in leadership, surrounded only by opportunists who wish to leverage a spot in his crew for a position near Preston. However, on the flipside, this protects Driton on many levels. Even without the sadistic reputation of the Petrela gang, and the earning ability of all of Besmir's associates, as long as these opportunists flock to him, he will hold enough muscle to ward off any threats.|
Driton is hinted to have a slight attraction towards Kaltrina, unbeknownst to his father, but irritating Besmir to no end. To avoid any Cain-and-Abel type conflicts, Kaltrina plays her interest down around Besmir. But rumors persist that the interest may be mutual, if only to allow Kaltrina a stronghold over Driton's gang's business. Subconsciously, Preston's favoritism towards Driton is extremely upsetting to Besmir, a major roadblock to his ambition.
| ||A rich-beyond-rich Russian 'businessman', and unlikely best friend to Besmir, Sergei is one of the storyline's integral characters. After the death of Vlad, Sergei is looked at as the Pecinovsky Organization's desparately needed, but only connection to the Russian mob. However, it becomes difficult for Sergei, only an associate and chiefly a businessman to do so. From then on out, Sergei becomes uncomfortable with the leadership of Dimitri Rascalov, calculating that Dimitri may not hesitate to eliminate surviving Faustin loyalists. From then on out, Sergei nervously pledges loyalty to you and the Pecinovsky Organization only, claiming that he's "probably Albanian at heart." Sergei represents the carefree side of power, able to avoid anger and madness during stressful situations. Although a good friend Besmir at times envies this ability, as Besmir's ambition and need for power has left him tainted, unable to ever remain carefree. |
When hanging out with Sergei, Besmir will sometimes try to anger him just out of curiosity, though it rarely works. Sergei's real occupation is as a legitimate gun-runner, who runs arms legally from Liberty to Russia, supplying the Russian Armed Forces. Sergei is good socially, doing his own public relations and press conferences when in fear of indictments. You can call up Sergei for a gun van, first seen in his earliest missions. Sergei is hassled by the Irish American Killers even more often then Besmir, though being the less violent of the duo, he holds no ill-will. Despite their often differing feelings, Sergei is an eventual aide-de-camp to Besmir, and like Papi, one of the non-Albanian members of his crew.
|Bohan Dominican and middleman in the infamous Albanian auto theft rackets, "Papi from Fortside" is a good friend and aide-de-camp to Besmir, as well as the ultimate representation of Besmir's rebellion against traditional Albanian criminal values. Papi is introduced later in the game, having a crossover mission with Luis Lopez. Like Sergei, he is a non-Albanian member of Besmir's crew, though with a role as one of Besmir's favorite advisors, rather than a more traditional earning role like Sergei. Papi is one of the earliest characters to experience true tragedy, due in part to Kaltrina, who has pegged Papi as her 'true enemy'. While Besmir partially understands this, he has sworn her to her word that she will not touch Papi, or at least 'as long as he is useful'. |
Ironically, while Kaltrina wishes Papi dead for reasons related to traditional Albanian culture (should not achieve such a high rank without Albanian blood,) traditional Albanian code of honor prevents her from killing him, as she must stick to her word. Papi begins the game as the owner of an auto lockup in Cerveza Heights, and a gambling den in Steinway. The Pecinovsky Organization later taxes his gambling den. Besmir is gracious that Papi agrees to pay 1.5x the regular tax, and despite Kaltrina's continued protests, he begins steadily rising through the ranks. Besmir can use Papi's garage to mod his vehicles, or he can call him for a free Albanian gang-oriented car or boat. Eventually Besmir is able to hang out with Papi, though their relationship is sometimes rocky, and there will be ups and downs.
|Vain, feudal in his mannerisms, and quite rough around the edges, Vlad's career is far past its peak, though he mantains his high position as a debt collector through his earning ability as a gasoline bootlegger. The storyline offers a brief glimpse of Vlad in his calmer days, and the origin of his cocaine habits that would soon-after lead to his demise. Vlad is an early mission-giver, your buyer for Comrades Bar, drinking buddy of Sergei Ableev, and your [quite necessary] connection to the Russian Mob. |
Thanks to Balkan Valor, you can now experience Vlad's downfall in more ways than one. Here, we see his downward spiral, not just his fatal decision. Balkan Valor will provide a bit of sympathetic view of his final days, as well as the inner-workings of his humble empire. Vlad's mission encompass one of the most lucrative rackets in the entire criminal underworld. Gasoline bootlegging, or, 'the gas-tax scam' has a nasty habit of bringing unwanted attention to its purveyors, but in the end, the risk is greater than the reward.
| ||Dardan Petrela is the fairly recent, but well-established leader of the Petrela Gang. Dardan's gang answers to the Pevinovsky Organization, making him a lieutenant or Krye. Despite his many faults and questionable ethics, Dardan's followers show undying loyalty to him and him only. Thus, when Besmir begins to expand his business interests without a direct sanction from Dardan, only a sanction from his father, Dardan is noticeably jarred by the favoritism. An early antagonist, Dardan's serves an important role in exploring the consequences of using blood relationships to get an early lead in the criminal underworld: people get upset. |
In the vein of real criminals like Roy Demeo, Dardan is one of the rare few who has made a name for himself through sadism, and exclusively to him, racism. Driven by an incident in which a Serbian gang left his brother Kalem near brain-dead, Dardan makes Albanian-Serbian conflict his own battle, sticking fiercely to the old concept of full-on vendetta. However, Liberty City has a strange pattern of cleansing, just as we learn from Vlad Glebov and his feudal theory, sticking to concepts of old will only put you 6 feet under. The same is even more true for Dardan: His anti-Serbian vendetta led him straight to a cabstand in Hove Beach. And the rest, was history.
| ||Longtime capo of the Ancelotti family, who despite the family's waning influence, still maintains a stronghold in certain businesses. Having peaked young, by the story's start, Anthony is rarely on the street earning, he rather chooses to enjoy the full benefits of his position, namely taxing those on his turf. The rest of his time is spent involved in mob politics, being the Ancelotti's buffer between the boss and other gangs.|
A subplot of the story is Anthony's identity crisis, which is hinted to be brought on by some sort of mental illness, or multiple personality disorder. Erratic, but a sympathetic character, Spoleto showcases that there is no way out of the mob, even when the stress has driven you mad. Anthony evolves in to an antagonist, though for all the wrong reasons.
| ||Reputed Acting Consigliere to the Pegorino Family of Alderney. Phil Bell is every bosses dream - sharp, sensible, calculating, and down to earth. Only one problem - most of him is Irish. Although arguably the least influential of the three Pegorino high ranks, Phil is the only thing that keeps the boss in line. Through Phil's backstory, we see the origin of the Pegorino-Ancelotti conflict from the point of view of the disgruntled mysterious Albanians. |
While clearly the most level-headed of the three leading Pegorinos, the distrustful relationships between the trio means Phil is kept in the dark from some of the sinister schemes of the family - and sometimes, he has to answer for their consequences. Luckily, he tends to get by through sheer likability. Eventually he will start to understand that Besmir and the Albanians will have no trouble chipping away at Alderney rackets. All he asks is that he keeps a piece of them. Phil Bell is still the mysterious figure you meet in IV. This time, however, he is involved in a major turning point.
|A swinger and federal agent who you can call up Marvin to provide wiretaps. Marvin is a reluctant friend to the Pecinovsky Organization, communicating solely through Besmir. Besmir has proclaimed 'ownership' of Marvin Walsh, in other words, proclaiming Marvin to be his corrupt federal agent and his only. Marvin is a degenerate gambler, to the point that many of his peers have begun to question if he deserves his senior position. Evidently, Besmir's intimidation and bully-behavior has scared Marvin right back to his former self, forming a rather one-sided friendship, and a general alliance. |
After a few appearances, Marvin is able to come to terms with his amoral self, and will provide wiretaps for Besmir when necessary. Like Papi Corona, Marvin is an unlikely associate, and a federal agent of all people. His partnership with Besmir represents Besmir's new-school attitude that is allowing him to, through his unique skills, survive in a rapidly changing underworld. By the end of the story it becomes apparent that Marvin has played an important part in the story of IV, and Balkan Valor.
|Boss of the second of two Liberty Albanian families, Yili is arguably the boss of The Council - the Albanian-American version of The Commission. At first glance Yili is heavily americanized. Although, this is partially a ruse used to mingle with American criminals, which has become necessary for survival in a highly paranoid underworld. By the beginning of the IV era, Yili is the more powerful of two bosses, and also the more experienced - with roots in communist Kosovo, Yili has experience in human trafficking, and the darker side of the black market, where he controls the American side of these two rackets, unchallenged by the more timid gambling-based families from all over America.|
Yili is far past the days of clinging to Italian families for support, though he is still very courteous to any Albanian-based gangs who do so, offering advice, support, and even financing. Yili represents success in pursuit of the American Dream. Against all odds, he, much like Kenny Petrovic, has succeeded in criminal endeavors, unrivaled by any man, woman, or government organization. By the beginning of Balkan Valor, the Dushku Organization has become largely legitimate, incorporating congressmen and CEO's high into their ranks, though they survive by never forgetting their criminal roots.
|Acting leader of the Midtown Gangsters and associate of the Bulgarians who has accumulated most of his wealth through a successful rap career. Besmir likens him to a 'pathetic clown' though continually does jobs for him because he sees it as a means to an end, the end being a unified Eastern-European criminal council. Two motifs surround Sihwa, the first being rare vehicles, and the second being convenient incompetence. The first time you meet Sihwa, he is in predicament trying to dispose of a gang member he has killed with his Toro minivan. |
His taste for flashy vehicles and making headlines have led to lowered opinion by his peers. It is this that motivates him to, out of desperation, strike the bloodiest turf war of the storyline. Hundreds end up dead - Albanian muscle vs. Spanish Lords, Yili Dushku vs. Lupisellas, everyone fighting for control of Alderney City gambling. Ironically, while even the death of hundreds by his hand cannot gain him his men's respect, in a single move he is able to terrify Besmir's crew, descending to his sound-proof basement in his pajamas, cutting a rival to death, then gain their respect by plotting the most high-profile robbery of the storyline.