I've had the VE for about a week. It is a great machine. Other's are right, it plays the same as SM.
I started playing SM at Poison Girl in Houston when I moved their in 2007 - it was a new machine (but the center post was removed making the Sandman shots tricky at times).
I was hooked after the first game. Played it 1-2 times a week for almost 6 years until I left Houston. Started calling distributors in 2008 to buy a machine but ultimately decided not to - at the time we were in the early stages of planning to quit work, liquidate and travel the world by bicycle for a couple of years. It didn't make sense to buy the machine at the time (it would have been my first pin) - but I still regretted not buying one (or the SMBS).
My wife got sick of me talking about the machine and my regrets so when the VE came out she told me to shut up and just buy it. I had been half-heartedly looking for a SM at the time. I was in the market anyway.
At first I balked at the price but after seeing the improvements and fixes (seeing the machine in Houston degrade over the years - Green Goblin broken, Sandman gate cracked, issues with the Webslingers, etc. that were never quite fixed) the price delta between a new machine and a new LED, shopped, upgraded machine started to shrink.
I liked the comic version of Spidey - the Ultimate art work was not my favorite, but closer to the character's roots. Themed (TV and movie) versions of games with actors likenesses eventually feel dated to me, another reason I was willing to move to the SMVE instead of a SM machine. I also really enjoy AFM art. If there were two editions (the original and a movie themed "Mars Attacks!") I'd go for the comic book art.
After the joy of unboxing a mint machine and playing game #1, I knew I made the right choice - for me. It is a great, fast game. I like the comic book themed version and it is a great looking box - especially the laser cut side armor. It has some weaknesses compared to the original (my write up on the "SMVE owners and future owners" forum) that are potentially changeable with Pinball Browser.
If I owned a SM, I doubt I'd sell it to get a SMVE unless I was a diehard comic book version fan.
If I planned on keeping the machine (and I do) the SMVE is the way to go.
Regardless of the debate, it is a fun machine. Just play whatever one you have access to.
If you're local to the Baltimore area and undecided on which to buy, PM me and you can check out my SMVE.