Wanted Level in GTA IV Era
A Wanted Level is a measure of how much the player is wanted by law enforcement and therefore how much force law enforcement will use to stop the player. As the player's wanted level increases, more powerful forms of law enforcement pursue the player. In Grand Theft Auto IV, wanted level is measured on a six-star scale. Committing several minor crimes in quick succession - such as beating people up, destroying cars, etc - will earn the player one star. Continuing to commit crimes or resisting arrest will often lead to a second star. Committing serious crimes (for example, throwing a grenade into a large crowd of bystanders) often earns the player multiple wanted stars outright. Killing or wounding an officer of the law with a firearm will result in an immediate three stars being earned.
If the player has one or more wanted stars, nearby police will give chase and attempt to arrest the player. An arrest is executed by either coming into close proximity with the player, forcing them to put their hands up, or by opening the player's car door and holding Niko at gunpoint. In the latter case, the player has no choice but to be arrested. In the former case, it is possible to resist arrest. However, this will raise the player's wanted level and most often result in the player being shot multiple times at close range. If arrested, the player is transported to the nearest police station and is released a few hours later after a variable amount of money (10% of the money that the player currently owns) and all weapons are taken.
A player's wanted level can be decreased in various ways. The most straight-forward way is to escape the search radius and remain out of sight for several seconds. Unlike GTA III era games, wanted levels cannot be lost by picking up police bribes, as these no longer exist. However, GTA IV still features Pay 'n' Spray, but unlike in previous games, they can only be entered when the player is out of sight of police (shown by the stars on the HUD being grayed out). Like in GTA III era games, Pay 'n' Spray will instantly remove Niko's wanted level.
Police in GTA IV are better equipped, smarter, more brutal and merciless and will respond even to crimes not directly witnessed by them, as civilians will call on their cell phones to report crimes, usually resulting in a one-star wanted level. Also, police will commandeer civilian vehicles if their vehicles are destroyed or if the police car is nowhere to be seen. Police also commandeer parked vehicles, including those saved in a parking space in front of Niko's safe houses, this can result in the player being chased by their favorite car (Bernie's Infernus perhaps) and will give the player little to no chance to retrieve the lost vehicle, seeing as the police crash often and if the player stops to re-commandeer the car Niko will probably be caught in the open by a large group of officers. If an Officer commandeers a vehicle in Niko's parking space and the player uses the "Wanted Down" cheat, getting the car back from him will not earn the player a wanted rating.)
Star levels are cumulative, therefore repeatedly committing even a "minor" infraction (such as vehicular homicide) can lead to higher wanted levels.
At a one star wanted level, any police patrols that spot Niko will give chase and attempt to arrest him. Officers will only shoot if they feel threatened (usually when Niko hits an officer with his car but doesn't kill him) and will most commonly attempt to arrest the player. police cars will follow Niko at lower speeds than at higher wanted levels. The wanted radius is approximately 2 blocks large. Cops also give chase to the player if they spot the player driving through the tollbooth without paying, stealing money from cash registers, driving while intoxicated, or even climbing onto a police car. The player won't be able to buy weapons, food, or use a taxi. Niko also can't enter the Split Sides Comedy Club, the Perestroika club, either The Triangle Club or Honkers or any of the clothing stores. Police officers will be able to commandeer parked vehicles to pursue the player.
A one-star wanted level is attained by committing the following crimes:
- Attacking and/or killing bystanders
- Damaging or destroying a vehicle (explosives may lead to higher levels)
- Attacking a police vehicle
- Crashing into a police vehicle
- Killing a police officer from behind (while he is in a police car)
- Firing a weapon in public
- Pointing a weapon at a police officer
- Running over a police officer
- Carjacking and stealing parked cars.
- Breaking through a tollbooth without paying
- Driving while intoxicated
- Pushing a police officer repeatedly
- Spraying cops or pedestrians with a water cannon when driving a fire truck
- Climbing on top of a police car
- Stealing money from cash registers
- Attempt to steal a police car
- Getting caught on fire (on foot or vehicle)
- Obstructing the way when an officer is making an arrest on an npc.
- Driving a car with an alarm going
Officers will now shoot to kill more often. Officers in cars now chase Niko rather than simply follow behind and will often try to overtake the player or spin them out.
Two wanted stars are attained by:
- Returning fire on a police officer (but not hitting him)
- Aiming a gun at a police officer
- Shooting at the body of a police car
- Destroying many cars at once
- Killing many people in a short space of time
- Crashing into a petrol pump
- Resisting arrest/Refusing to cooperate (running after an officer tries to arrest Niko, excessive running or not pulling over)
- Destroying a Securicar or the Police Stockade
- Flying over the Civilization Committee in Algonquin in a helicopter
- flying over the runway at Francis International Airport in a helicopter
At a three-star wanted level, pursuing police vehicles become more aggressive and the police also begin to set up roadblocks on main roads. A police helicopter is also called in to assist and its crew will follow Niko, put a spotlight on him at night, and shoot at Niko if they get a clear shot. NOOSE Cruisers will join chase and create roadblocks on bridges as well as NOOSE Patriots. NOOSE Patriots will also frequently attempt to hit the player's car headon similar to Rhino Units in Need For Speed: Most Wanted, usually causing ejection from the vehicle. All police vehicles pursue at maximum speed. Police boats are dispatched if the player enters or goes near water. Niko is unable to board the subway now and is unable to evade the police in a helicopter. However, the helicopter has limited fuel and will break off pursuit if the player enters a tunnel or destroys the heli.
Three wanted stars are attained by:
- Killing a police officer
- Killing many bystanders
- Causing excessive property damage very quickly, such as blowing up several cars at once
- Wounding an officer in a firefight
At four stars the player will be confronted by either NOOSE Enforcers or FIB Buffalos. The LCPD still chase the player, and they are as frequent as before, only now accompanied by NOOSE/FIB vehicles. The other forms of NOOSE still chase the player as well. The officers and agents will begin to use shotguns along with pistols. It has been speculated, but not confirmed, that FIB Buffalos are dispatched when the player is in a small, quick car as they are fast and maneuverable. The NOOSE Enforcer is dispatched when the player is in a larger vehicle and is retaliating with a large amount of force. Sometimes, both services will chase the player in order to have a well-rounded arsenal: NOOSE Enforcers to stop the players vehicle, and FIB Buffalo to keep up with the player's car. At this point it is also speculated that the car the player is driving decides how many of the other services are dispatched. For example, if Niko is driving a fast car NOOSE Patriots are spawned as the specially modified Patriots possess both speed and stopping power. However what vehicle the player is driving may not even really be a factor. Four wanted stars are attained by:
At five stars the Police Maverick is accompanied by a NOOSE Annihilator. All law enforcement open fire, even in pursuit, making getaways and keeping the vehicle in good condition difficult. The FIB will now dispatch even more Buffalos. The FIB are really skilled with their cars so be careful, as they will usually try to make the player spin out of control or crash into a (wall/car.etc) They will also usually use the PIT maneuver as one of their blocking skills. They also have very powerful weapons at their disposal. NOOSE/FIB cooperation is more apparent at this level, and they both appear equally, chasing the player. Five stars are attained by:
- Continuing to retaliate
- Taking down a few more police helicopters
- Continuing to cause extreme property damage, such as blowing up more than a dozen cars
- Going on the site 'Littlelacysurprisepageant.com'.
At six stars the Police Maverick is replaced with a second Annihilator. The police forces have a larger percentage of FIB/NOOSE. LCPD is still evident, though not as much as before. More NOOSE Cruisers, Patriots, Enforcers and FIB Buffalo are found instead, with only a smattering of LCPD cop cars. Survival in a car and on the streets is much more difficult. All parties will doggedly try to ram/shoot the player into oblivion. Escape is harder, due to the constant presence of two police helicopters. The best way to escape is to shoot down the Annihilators, and, before they re-spawn, sneak into a Pay 'n' Spray. Another easy way to escapeis if your are near the Internet cafe in Algonquin is to go onto the train tracks with a vehicle then just follow the subway until you are out of their radius, but it is quite easy to get lost down in the subways. Six stars are attained by:
- Continuing to retaliate
- Destroying a huge number vehicles at once
- Take down several police choppers and kill scores of law enforcement officers
- Cross police barricades areas that are yet to be unlocked