A sublime product: it is one of the best.
Nearly everything about this game was perfect. The story, while at times disjointed, fitted into the excellence of the piece. Relief was another recurring theme. Turn-based combat, plain old pixels, and other "low-end" deals allowed for a polishing of surfaces as opposed to experimentation. Really, this was not a throwback, it was a restoration. I'm not to hyped-up on the polygon buzz when high resolution bitmaps appear (although Halflife would change my mind: excellent polygon usage).
Interesting was the (suspiciously) Wasteland-like text-visual fusion present. I suspect that I may be in an outstanding category, but I honestly believed that Fallout was more text-based than graphic. Even though the little green text box was that, little, it still listed, with detail that would rival any bureaucrat's, it is mighty. I liked that, duh, otherwise I wouldn't rave about it.
Lest I forget, the non-linear plot was great. I have hated almost every RPG, except for the likes of Darkland and the more recent Baldur's Gate.
The best aspect, though, which was missing in Fallout 2, was the atmosphere. Fallout managed to appeal to almost all my post-nuclear fantasy, like a dark, gritty, diabolical spagetti-western. I really think I missed out on the cold war, considering my nascent state during its final years; at least mutally assured destruction is exciting, right (I had to see Dr. Strangelove twice before I realized that it was funny, not a thriller)? Anyway, the Post-Apocalyptic Romantic story appealed to me, and it was spooky, too: the evocative music sounds, the graphics look, and the story was, like a nuclear wasteland should: cold, harsh, new, and anciet; the post-Shiva dance. There were cowboys and crooks, caravans, civilization-perserving survivalists, roving mutants, and, best of all, a world-destroying cult. And, not to forget, the sadly misguided antagonsist (hell, I felt sympathy, after my disgust). The Glow sequence epitomized this granduer. The glow is the game's high point: it was the place of revelation, for there one learns of the flash and demise.
There was little that detracted from this game. The game seems to be somewhat on the "short" side, even though it has a near minimum of 20 hour play time. The map as a whole is small: despite the details, there are few locations when compared to the standard cart RPG. Also, although the game allows for player decision in almost everything, this usually favors the "good-guy" outcome; a player can choose the "bad" options, but the changes to the story are cosmetic, at least until the Final Judgment sequence after completion. The lack of background animations left a dry feeling sometimes, although this is very difficult to accomplish. Fallout's cousin, Baldur's Gate, while not doing a great job with background animation, pleased me in that the water actually moved, unlike Fallout's photographic feel.
The Bottom Line
This is one of the greatest ever, from any genre. Don't doubt it would keep anyone up late (but not as bad as, say, civilization or its latest incarnation Alpha Centauri). It is a truely well-done, restorative game that brings back the best of the old school RPG. Not only is it mechanically ideal, but perfectly presented.