I haven't found a good FAQ--or any info in general--on Hotline Miami's scoring system, but I've managed to get an A+ rating on all but two levels so far. If you're trying to earn an S Rank, here are some tips for getting A+ ratings:
Executions are the best way to rack up points. An execution is performed when an enemy is down (but not out) and you finish him with the space bar. Depending on the situation, you might need a few extra clicks to finish the job. There are generally three types of executions:
- Against a wall
- With a melee weapon.
Weapons are by far the highest scoring form of execution. Some weapons score higher than others. This is tricky because it means you have to knock down an enemy with your fists (or by throwing a weapon) and then quickly pick up a weapon before he gets up so you can execute him. Once you've mastered the game's controls though, it's easy enough.
Executing an enemy with your bare hands, or when they'e up against a wall, gives you the same amount of points, I believe, but considerably less than with a weapon. Note: You cannot use a melee weapon to execute an enemy that's up against a wall.
I'm not entirely sure what the game interprets as "boldness", but I think I've figured it out. If you punch an enemy as he's coming at you, you score way more points than by sneaking up on them. Usually, the best thing to do is to get an enemy's attention and wait for them to rush you, then, with good timing, stand your ground, punch him, quickly pick up his weapon, and execute them with it. Do this whenever possible.
I believe this also counts when you take out guys that are shooting at you. If you're standing really close to a guy with a gun, he'll miss, and you can safely punch him, but this is way too risky to be reliable. It's worth keeping in mind though.
AVOID USING GUNS
Don't use guns. Sure, once you've figured out how to properly use guns in Hotline Miami, beating a level becomes pretty easy, but they give you the least amount of points. In the ideal situation, you'd take out every enemy in the room with a weapon execution, so don't use guns. Of course, there are situations where it's unavoidable--some guys can only be killed with guns--those situations should not affect your ranking
You should be able to go into most rooms barehanded, take everybody out, pick up their weapons, and execute them all. So once you've taken everyone out in a room, consider if you'll need that weapon in the next room. Chances are, you're probably better off dropping it. It's tough, but that's what'll get you an A+ ranking. There are, of course, exceptions...
THROW YOUR WEAPONS
It's sometimes impossible to rush or sneak up on enemies with guns. In those cases, throw your weapon at them, then quickly pick it up and execute them. Sometimes there is more than one enemy with a gun, and I've found that if I time it well, I can throw a weapon at one, and quickly punch the other one before he sees me coming. It's one of the trickier things to do.
There are some rooms you can't really walk into. Either because there are guys with guns, or there's just too many guys. Learn to lure people out by quickly getting into their field of vision and having them come after you. Once they leave the room to come after you, you can execute them. This works particularly well for rooms with glass walls.
Combos are a fairly obvious way to rank up points, and the game definitely likes to encourage you for it, but don't rely on them. I've found that you get more points for taking your time and executing three men, than you would if you quickly took them out with a weapon and got the points for the combo. However, if you can quickly execute everyone in a room and string it into a combo, then definitely go for that. This can be difficult, of course.
Speed only seems important in the context of killing your enemies before they kill you, or linking executions into a combo. I've managed to A+ levels while getting "0" as my time bonus.
I'm not sure how it works, but the game's tips say that variety is rewarded. So I guess try to switch up the weapons you use as much as possible.
I'm not sure if the mask you use plays a role. I've only used the Richard mask to get A+ rankings.
That's about it. If you have any tips, please contribute. Feel free to ask me any questions if you need clarification. Playing for points has been the most enjoyable things about Hotline Miami (besides the soundtrack). It's turned it into a kind of puzzle game for me--and I love puzzle games! Scoring high means analysing the room for patterns and completing each room quickly and efficiently. It basically pushes all the right buttons for me. And, yeah, it's pretty challenging too!