Actually i found the review in Wired very helpful. What Fallout 3 does very good is to show and give you the feel how a fallout feels like. And also, as was stated in the review, the serious presentation. Its bleak, dark and very unfunny, but thats how it might look like after a fallout and i actually enjoyed it. And yes, you can go which path you choose. You do not have to go in order to play the game. As someone who never played Fallout before it was an amzing experience and i got hooked for hours to play the game. From that view it was a highlight in gaming to me.