I guess you need a few more HTC owners to pick up on this one to try and see if there is anything common to a particular device or devices. Locations has worked fine for me on my Desire S which I've had since August 2011 and I think it's a good application and meets my requirements as it does for you although there have been a number of critical comments about it from other contributors.
I wonder if we have the same version on our two devices, mine is 1.2.2119383067.172326, and I'm running Sense 3.0 which added the Trip function to Locations.
I can get the 'pointing finger' on the icon which allows you to manually rotate the compass and map, and ironically this function is not mentioned in my User Guide whereas the tap to get compass mode is.
In compass mode the red N points north and the map rotates accordingly with a green direction arrow placed at the current location.
I suppose you have tried a battery pull.