Like fine wine -- only gets better with age.
Through some strange course of events, Fallout turned out to be the last Infinity-Engine-era RPG I ever played. The Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series caught my eye early on, but I never actually got around to playing Fallout until 2007. So fair warning ... this is an old game, and the interface and combat will take some getting used to. FAQs are your friend. Once you get the swing of things, you're in for one of the best RPGs ever made.
I was actually surprised by a few things, considering how much I’ve heard about this game over the years. First, the combat is really, really fun despite the game’s age. Burst shorts at close range, sniping people’s eyes apart, watching bodies sever apart, using chainsaws or flamethrowers or shotguns, miniguns ... I had a lot of giggles with the plentiful and splendorific death animations.
Now I knew the story would be good. But I didn’t realize it would be as good as it actually was. I was expecting good for video game standards, not honest-to-goodness good. Conversation trees have a natural flow to them. Dialogue is exceptionally well-written and voice-acted, plus lots of variety -- very few stock lines or responses, so there’s lots of replay value simply right there. I can very easily see the uproar from Fallout fans over Bethesda’s ability to create meaningful conversation and overall story in Fallout 3 after seeing the very high bar set with Fallout. There’s definitely a bit of originality magic in this game’s storyline and setting, which makes me leary lightning can strike twice in Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 (haven't played either yet -- well not 3 obviously).
Overall, I really haven’t had this much fun with a game since my first few months with World of Warcraft. I finished the game with a jack-of-all-trades character (very short game by Infinity Engine Era standards -- maybe 10-12 hours?), and I’m looking forward to maybe one or two more playthroughs with some specific characters (diplomatic sniper and idiotic melee thug).
Really the only bad thing I can say about the game is how clunky the interface and combat initially is, but 30 minutes with a FAQ and playing around with it is all you really need to get it down. Then it becomes quite fun and second nature.