While I agree they changed it.
I don't think the RE games have aged well the exception being REmake. Because the interface was and still is so bad, compared to adventure games on the PC at the time. The thing that made them unique was that they were "scary adventure games"
the stories I didn't enjoy either. The characters are charming though in a B movie sort of way. and REmake is actually scary while I don't find any others really at all.
But, I obviously was never a fan of the original RE's when it came out, or their design. So I had no problems with them changing it. (Though I agree with what wright said, some backtracking is good and newer games tend to just force you in a straight line forward, and RE4 mostly did this).
I loved RE4 a lot because of its innovative action gameplay, and RE5 because of its really good co-op.