Wanted Level in GTA IV Era
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A Wanted Level in Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansions, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, is a measure of how much the player is wanted by the law enforcement in Liberty City and therefore how much force law enforcement use to capture/stop the protagonist. As the player's wanted level increases, more powerful and numerous forms of law enforcement pursue the player. In GTA IV, like in previous games, the wanted level is measured on a six-star scale, which increase in police lethality from the non-lethal one star to the extremely aggressive six stars.
Committing a minor crime within sight of police, such as beating people up, stealing cars, damaging occupied cars on foot, etc - earns the player one star; committing several of these crimes in quick succession may attract a star with or without police visibility. Continuing to commit crimes or resisting arrest often leads to a second star. Committing serious crimes (for example, throwing a grenade into a large crowd of bystanders) is likely to earn the player multiple wanted stars immediately; killing or wounding an officer of the law with a firearm results in an immediate three stars being earned.
If the player has one or more wanted stars, nearby LCPD officers 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 the player at gunpoint; if arrested, the player is transported to the nearest police station and released a few hours later after a fine (10% of the player's current cash balance) and all weapons are taken. Vehicular arrests cannot be resisted; on-foot arrests can, however this raises the player's wanted level, and is likely to result in somewhat severe injury as the police fire upon the player at close range. As the player's wanted level goes up, the LCPD try less and less to arrest the player, but more and more to stop (kill) the player at all cost. It is almost impossible to get arrested with 4 stars and up, unless it's a vehicular arrest.
A player's wanted level can be decreased in various ways. The most straightforward 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; the Pay 'n' Spray service is, however, still available. Unlike in previous games, Pay 'n' Sprays cannot be used in sight of police, even for vehicle repair; visibility to police is indicated by whether the stars on the HUD are white (visible) or grey (out of sight). Pay 'n' Sprays instantly remove the player's wanted level, and their use advances the in-game clock three hours.
Police in GTA IV are better-equipped, smarter, more brutal and merciless and respond even to crimes not directly witnessed by them, as civilians can call police on their cell phones to report crimes, usually resulting in a one-star wanted level. Law enforcement now better understand different weapons and their ranges, meaning that a cop with a Pump Shotgun will move in closer to the player while a NOOSE agent with a Carbine Rifle will hang back to shoot at a distance. Also, police can commandeer civilian vehicles (parked or occupied) if their vehicles are destroyed, or if a police car is unavailable. They may even commandeer the cars parked in front of the player's safehouses. If an officer commandeers a vehicle in the player's parking space and the player uses the "Wanted Down" cheat, getting the car back from the officer doesn't earn the player a wanted rating.
Wanted level stars are cumulative, therefore repeatedly committing even a "minor" infraction (such as vehicular homicide) can lead to higher wanted levels.
Police radio messages are an additional audio indicator of a player having one or more police stars. These messages reflect the crimes being committed by the player; for example, firing a pistol will lead to mentions of "firearm discharge" over the radio, and firing an assault rifle (or successfully hitting an individual with any gun) is described as "a shooting".
When the player attains their first wanted level, the game displays information to briefly explain the wanted level system.
The area cops search is shown by the flashing red and blue zone. Cops are shown by the flashing red and blue icons.
To lose your wanted level, escape the flashing zone.
The cops are less likely to identify you if you swap vehicles or run through alleyways and side streets.
If the wanted stars are grayed out then the cops have lost sight of you.
At a one star wanted level, any LCPD police patrols that spot the player give chase and attempt to arrest the protagonist. Officers only shoot at one star if they feel threatened and most commonly attempt to arrest the player. Police cars follow the player at lower speeds than at higher wanted levels. The wanted radius is approximately two blocks large. The player is unable to buy any items (weapons, food (expect for sodas in vending machines), or clothes), enter a taxi as a passenger, enter entertainment venues (bars, clubs, etc.), or partake in any activity (TV, darts, etc.).
If the player breaks free when the police are trying to arrest the protagonist, the player gains a two star wanted level and police start to use firearms.
A one-star wanted level is attained by committing the following crimes:
- Attacking a police officer unarmed or with a melee weapon
- Attacking and/or killing bystanders (explosives may lead to higher levels)
- Damaging or destroying a vehicle (explosives may lead to higher levels)
- Attacking or crashing into a police vehicle
- Killing a police officer from behind (while in a police car)
- Firing a weapon in public areas
- Pointing any weapon at a police officer
- Running over a citizen or police officer
- Carjacking or stealing a parked vehicle
- Driving a car with the car alarm going off
- Breaking through a tollbooth without paying
- Driving while intoxicated from one of the bars
- Pushing a police officer repeatedly by running into them
- Spraying cops or pedestrians with a water cannon when driving a fire truck
- Standing on top of a police car occupied by police
- Stealing money from the cash register in any accessible store
- Starting fires or getting caught on fire
- Obstructing justice when a officer is chasing or making an arrest on a NPC
Officers now shoot to kill more often. Officers in cars now chase the player rather than simply follow behind and often try to overtake the player or spin them out.
Two wanted stars are attained by:
- Attacking, but not wounding, a police officer with a firearm or explosives
- Destroying many vehicles at once
- Killing many people in a short space of time
- Crashing into a fuel pump
- Evading arrest on foot or in a vehicle
- Destroying a Securicar or Police Stockade by using firearms or explosives
- Flying over or landing in restricted airspace in a helicopter (FIA Runway or CC Complex)
- Stealing certain cars for Brucie's Exotic Exports
At a three-star wanted level, pursuing police vehicles become more aggressive and the police also begin to set up roadblocks on main roads. Law enforcement most often eithttle to no chance to recover and escape. Also, use of a motorbike as a getaway vehicle is now more risky because of the law's tendency to ram the player. A police helicopter is also called in to assist and its crew follow the player, putting a spotlight on the protagonist at night, and shooting at the protagonist if they get a clear shot. However, the helicopter has limited fuel and temporarily breaks off pursuit (most of the time, the helicopter crash-lands near the player), as well as if the player enters a tunnel, kills its two riflemen, or destroys the helicopter. Police officerser attempts to pin the player against a building or use multiple squad cars to repeatedly ram the player, giving him/her li now use Pump Shotguns in order to stop the player. NOOSE now begin to aid the LCPD, as NOOSE Cruisers and NOOSE Patriots join chase and create roadblocks on bridges, typically using the heavier Patriots. NOOSE Patriots also frequently attempt to hit the player's vehicle head-on, usually causing ejection from the vehicle. Police boats with riflemen are dispatched if the player enters or goes near water. The player is now unable to board the subway and is unable to evade the police in a helicopter.
Three wanted stars are attained by:
At four stars, the FIB and NOOSE's Tactical Response Unit join the fray, and the player is confronted by either NOOSE Enforcers or FIB Buffaloes. 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. NOOSE T.R.U. officers and FIB agents come four to a vehicle, all of them are well protected with body armor, they are typically armed with Carbine Rifles, however some officers use SMGs and Pump Shotguns instead, and all of them are deadly accurate with their weapons. It has been speculated, but not confirmed, that FIB Buffaloes 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 chase the player in order to have a well-rounded arsenal: NOOSE Enforcers to stop the players vehicle, and FIB Buffaloes 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 the player 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 while in pursuit, making getaways and keeping the vehicle in good condition difficult, especially if FIB or NOOSE intercept the player, as three SMGs make extremely short work of the player's getaway vehicle. Because of the increased risk of being shot to death, use of a motorbike as a getaway vehicle at this level and beyond is not recommended. Additionally, all law enforcement use more advanced driving techniques, such the PIT maneuver, as they try to make the player spin out of control and crash. NOOSE/FIB cooperation is more apparent at this level, and they both appear equally, chasing the player.
Five stars are attained by:
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 Buffaloes are found instead, with only a smattering of LCPD cruisers and patrol cars. Without resorting to cheat codes, survival and escape is most difficult, and a fast or durable vehicle is recommended. When in a vehicle, all parties doggedly and relentlessly attempt to ram and shoot the player into oblivion with very little regard for collateral damage. When on foot, all parties rapidly tear through the player with their weapons if the protagonist isn't moving or retaliating quickly. Escape is harder, due to the constant presence of two NOOSE Annihilators. The best way to escape is to shoot down the Annihilators and sneak into a Pay 'n' Spray before they re-spawn. Another easy way to escape is to go onto the subway system with a vehicle and then follow the subway until out of the police radius, but it is quite easy to get lost down in the subways.
The player can earn the "One Man Army" Achievement/Trophy by surviving (not getting busted or wasted) for five minutes on six stars, however use of certain cheat codes disables this Achievement/Trophy.
Six stars are attained by:
- Continuing to retaliate against law enforcement
- Continuing to cause collateral damage
- Crossing police barricades or flying into areas of Liberty City that the player has not yet unlocked
- If the player crosses a bridge, and there is a helicopter nearby, and the player obtains a wanted level (a one-star even counts for this), the helicopter flying over the bridge will start to chase the player, this means even Helitours Mavericks, Mavericks, or even an Annihilator will chase the player. The Maverick will shout to the player in a loudspeaker. However, there are no men in the helicopter to shoot at the player, so it's just best to shoot it down.
- If the player drinks soda,the police will temporarily not shoot at the player for a few seconds while Niko is drinking the soda.However,they resume attacking him immediately afterwards.
- If you are drunk and stumbling around, and have a one-star wanted level, the Police will follow you around pointing their guns at you, until you 'sober up'.
- In GTA Chinatown Wars, if the player fires a low-level weapon (Such as a Revolver) near a police officer without hurting anyone, they will not recieve a wanted level.
- If possible,try to target the officers with shotguns first unless your out of range of their shots, as they can easily you in 1-2 shots.
- If you kill the two officers with Carbine Rifles in the passenger bay of a police helicopter, the chopper will go away. Better yet,shoot the pilot to make it crash, however, rarely the helicopter's passengers will survive the fall and continue fighting.
- You can listen to the police radio on foot when being chased, indicating what the police are sending after you, such as "Dispatch NOOSE/FIB team from X" the X standing for a random location on the map, the location does not affect where there actually coming from, it's just randomly generated.
- If the drivers of any chasing police vehicles are shot, the car will usually move to the side and crash. This is usual for getting away, but may raise the wanted level. It should also be noted that the windshield of the NOOSE Enforcer is bulletproof, so the driver can not be shot in this fashion, unless shot through the side window.