Wanted Level in GTA IV Era

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A Wanted Level is a measure of the how much the player is wanted by law enforcement. As the player's wanted level increases, more powerful forms of law enforcement pursue the player. In GTA 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.

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 him 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. If arrested, the player is transported to the nearest police station and is released some time later minus a variable amount of money and all weapons.

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' Sprays which can only be entered only when out of sight of police (shown by the stars on the HUD being grayed out). These will lower and/or remove wanted levels.

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.

It should also be noted that star levels are cumulative, therefore even committing a minor infraction repeatedly can lead to higher wanted levels.

One Star

At a one star wanted level, any police patrols that spot you will give chase and attempt to arrest you. Officers will only shoot if they feel threatened and will most commonly attempt to arrest the player. Police cars will follow you at lower speeds than at higher wanted levels. The wanted radius is approximately 2 blocks large. Cops also give chase to player if they spot the player drving through the tollbooth without paying, stealing money from cash registers, drving intoxicated, or even climbing on a police car. You won't be able to buy weapons, food, or use a taxi. You also can't enter the Split Sides Comedy Club, the Perestroika club, either The Triangle Club or Honkers and 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
  • attacking a police vehicle
  • crashing into a police vehicle
  • killing a police officer from behind (while it 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

Two Stars

Officers will now shoot to kill more often. Officers in cars now chase you rather than simply follow behind and will often try to overtake you or spin you out.

Two wanted stars are attained by:

  • returning fire on a police officer
  • aiming a gun at a police officer
  • shooting at the body of the police car
  • destroying many cars at once
  • killing many people in a short space of time
  • crashing into a petrol pump
  • faking arrest
  • refusing to cooperate (excessive running or not pulling over)
  • destroy a Securicar or the Police Stockade

Three Stars

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 you, put a spotlight on you (at night), and shoot at you if they get a clear shot. NOOSE Cruisers will join chase and create roadblocks on bridges. All police vehicles pursue at maximum speed. Police boats are dispatched if the player enters water. You are unable to board the subway now and you're unable to evade the police in a helicopter.

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

Four Stars

At four stars the player will be confronted by the NOOSE and FIB. The LCPD still chase the player, and they are as frequent as before, only now accompanied by NOOSE vehicles. It has been speculated, but not confirmed, that NOOSE Patriots and FIB Buffalo are dispatched when the player is in a small, quick car as their specially modified Patriots possesses both speed and stopping power, and the FIB Buffalo are fast and quick. The NOOSE Enforcer is dispatched when the player is in a larger vehicle and is physically manhandling the police. Most commonly, 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. However, there have been instances of NOOSE Enforcers, NOOSE Cruisers, FIB Buffalo and NOOSE Patriots chasing the player together, so what vehicle the player is driving may not be a factor, nor is the location. Proof is when the player goes on the runway at Francis International Airport or initiates a pursuit on Algonquine. When a 4-star wanted level is acquired, NOOSE Enforcers, FIB Buffalo and NOOSE Patriots can be seen tailing the player's car.

Four wanted stars are attained by:

  • continuing to retaliate against law enforcement
  • continuing to kill civilians
  • causing extreme property damage, such as blowing up many cars
  • entering the runway at Francis International Airport
  • entering the grounds of the Civilization Committee in Algonquin

Five Stars

The Police Maverick is replaced with the 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 FIB Buffalos, these cars handle extremely well so be ready if one Buffalo tries to block you. NOOSE/FIB cooperation is more apparent at this level, and they both appear equally, chasing the player. Five stars are attained if you:

  • continue to retaliate
  • take down a few more police helicopters
  • continue to cause extreme property damage, such as blowing up more than a dozen cars
  • going on the site 'Littlelacysurprisepageant.com' at the Tw@ internet cafe.

Six Stars

Two NOOSE Annihilator helicopters pursuit the player. Law enforcement force is more saturated with 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. Escape is harder, due to a constant helicopter presence. Six stars are attained if you:

  • continue to retaliate
  • take down several police choppers and kill scores of law enforcement officers
  • cross police barricades to islands before unlocked