@oldirtybearon: Yes! I hear so few people ever say this, but it's true.
I remember, even as a young person, playing Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 back to back and being struck by how digressive and silly Fallout 2 was in comparison to the first. ("Why do these two creepy celebrities have a spaceship? Is this going to be important to the endgame or something?")
Really, in a lot of ways, Fallout 3 is a just more tonally consistent remake of the "government remnants gradually become genocidal fascists" story material of Fallout 2.
I wouldn't go so far as to call Fallout 2 a terrible Fallout game myself-- but Fallout 3 is a pretty great Fallout game.