A little while ago, after logging just over eighty hours of game time since then, I completed Fallout 3 at long last. By my calculation I could have wrapped everything up in about twenty hours, if I hadn't been such a fiend for exploring the Capital Wasteland (what the irradiated ruins of Washington D.C. are called almost three hundred years from now).
And I still didn't get to scout out every location on the map! There's roughly 1/4th of the Capital Wasteland - almost entirely in the northeast quadrant - that I thought I'd be able to get to see somehow, until I got catapulted into the showdown with the Enclave at the Jefferson Memorial.
So what did I think?
Fallout 3 is an unparalleled achievement in video gaming. Never before had I known as much freedom and utterly vast territory to run around in. The story is solid, the characters are rich and well developed, and on a technical level the graphics, sound and programming alone will be a milestone by which games will be measured for many years to come. I also loved the voiceover work, especially Liam Neeson as James and Malcolm McDowell as President Eden.
But the real star of Fallout 3 is the Capital Wasteland itself. Along with Rapture in the BioShock series, the Capital Wasteland is a character all its own. And I think that both Fallout 3 and BioShock have set a new definition for gaming excellence with their sheer geography: in my mind, this is the "virtual reality" that was so vastly hyped a decade ago.
Anyway, I finally finished the game. Won't say that I "won" it, anymore than you could say that you "beat" a book by reading it. And I honestly can't remember any other video game that left me at once feeling a sense of profound achievement and terrible exhaustion. Going to let this one rest for awhile... before playing the Operation Anchorage, The Pitt and Broken Steel add-on content! :-)