Well, it is ten years old. Games age quickly and you'll never feel the magic we did when it was fresh and new and we'd never played anything quite like it before. Not to mention, the graphics actually looked cutting edge and we were used to the awkward controls back then. I wouldn't expect anyone to pick up Fallout, Diablo, Starcraft or Baldur's Gate and really feel the same magic as when they were revolutionary and new.
That said if you give Fallout some more time and patience everything will start to click. There are plenty of quests and all, but it is a game that takes a lot of trial and error and exploration to really get going. As far as save-and-redo, that's endemic of the RPGs of that time- again, you had to be there then.
Also, since you said you checked guides I'll give you one slight spoiler, which is that you shouldn't feel too pressured by the time limit.