Any player of the Grand Theft Auto knows that the police will be coming after you at one point or another. The Wanted Level is comprised of six stars and is located underneath your health and cash in the upper right corner. The police presence will be light with only a single star and will gradually ramp up as you get more, with the army being called in if you manage to fill up all six stars. Yes, the army will come in, with tanks and high-powered weaponry. There are a multitude of ways to get the police off of you, but it depends on how many stars you currently have.
Whenever you have a single star, the police will begin chasing after you, including if you’re in a vehicle of your own. If they manage to stop you, you will be arrested (you will see “Busted” appear on your screen) by them. Should this happen, you will be transported to the nearest police station, have to pay a fine and have all of your weapons removed from your inventory. The only time the latter doesn’t happen is if you are dating Barbara Schternvart, as you do not lose weapons or body armor upon being Busted. If you are Busted during a mission, then you will automatically fail the mission.
Removing Wanted Level
For example, if you stop doing crimes, then you can simply drive away and avoid the police to get rid of one or two stars. If you have three or more stars, though, then you will need to employ other options. Throughout the game’s world, you may see little round icons with a police badge on them. These are Police Bribes and collecting one will lower your wanted level by one star (they can still be collected if you only have one star). The Pay ‘n’ Spray is another option, as driving a vehicle that can have its color changed will automatically stop the police from coming after you.
However, the wanted level will be flashing, indicating that if you commit another crime that would get you a star, then the full level you had before will be reinstated. This will also hold true if you go to a mod shop to modify one of your vehicles, but making another modification when the stars are flashing will cause your stars to instantly disappear. Changing your clothes also has the same effect as a Pay ‘n’ Spray, so you can do that and try to be careful not to do anything bad. You can also head into a hideout and save your game, which will make your stars disappear.
One-Star Wanted Level
There are a number of things that will get you a one-star Wanted Level, most of which revolve around doing some kind of crime with a police officer nearby. This includes hijacking a vehicle, assaulting/killing a pedestrian, spraying a Gang Tag, shooting a weapon, and even bumping into a police vehicle. At this stage, the police will come after you should they see you, but don’t give too much of a chase. They will attempt to punch you or use a nightstick in apprehension, and not much more, except if you’re holding a gun or explosive, which is when they will shoot.
Two-Star Wanted Level
If you continue the above crimes, then you may see your Wanted Level increase to two stars. You will pretty much always get two stars for killing a police officer, though. At this point, the police will begin to use more force on you, as they will begin shooting with their pistols. If you are in a vehicle, they will actively chase you and if you are in a boat, they will have police boats coming after you.
Three-Star Wanted Level
Things will start to get serious from here on out, as the police coming after you will begin ramping things up. You will see them being more aggressive as they chase you and you will sometimes see roadblocks being set up on the roads. A police helicopter will also begin pursuit at this stage, shining a spotlight on you and also shooting. You might also see SWAT members coming out of the helicopter on ropes, with them wearing full body armor and wielding Uzis. At this point, to get three or more stars, you will need to cause a lot of destruction and mayhem, with a focus on law enforcement especially.
Four-Star Wanted Level
With four stars, the SWAT will begin chasing you in armored vans and roadblocks will consist of Enforcers. Also, in addition to the police helicopter, you will also see a news chopper. If you happen to shoot down the news chopper, then another police helicopter will take its place. Should you happen to be flying a vehicle, then you will have up to two Hydras pursuing you and attempting to take you down. Note that if you try to enter an area you’re not supposed to (not restricted in terms of military), like Las Venturas if you’re still in the beginning of the game, then you will automatically gain a four-star wanted level. If you continue staying in that area, then police bribes and the Pay ‘n’ Spray will not work as intended.
Five-Star Wanted Level
The local police are gone, for the most part, unless they see you while moving around, and replaced by the FBI. They have heavily armored vehicles, as well as agents, and will stop at nothing to try and kill you. They are extremely accurate with their weapons, which can tear through a normal vehicle within seconds, if given the chance to do so. There are two restricted areas in the game, the Easter Basin Naval Station in San Fierro, and Area 69 in Bone County near Las Venturas. If you happen to try to go there at all, you will instantly gain a five-star wanted level.
Six-Star Wanted Level
The most dangerous level is six stars, where the military will now get involved. They will use Barracks OL trucks and Rhino tanks to come after you, which are heavily armor and in the case of the Rhino, ramming into it will cause you to explode and instantly die. The soldiers will be carrying very dangerous firearms, like M16s, MP5s and M4s. Similar to the FBI at five stars, the military are extremely accurate with their weapons and unless you are lucky, you are almost certainly going to be killed by them.